Mitt Romney spoke before the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) today in Florida. As we might expect, applause was anemic with two exceptions: 1) when he spoke of gaining a path to citizenship through Military service and 2) immigrants with advance degrees. My partial transcript of Romney’s plan for Immigration below is followed by the full video (courtesy of RightScoop) (my transcript skips opening and closing remarks).
Begin partial, loose transcript of Mitt Romney’s remarks on his Immigration plan:
Unfortunately, despite his promises, President Obama has failed to address immigration reform. For two years, this president had huge majorities in the House and Senate. He was free to pursue any policy he pleased, but he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Nothing. Instead he failed to act until facing a tough re-election and trying to secure your vote.
Last week the President finally issued a temporary measure. He called it a “stop-gap” measure. He seems to think it will be just enough to get him through the election.
After 3-1/2 years of putting every issue from loan guarantees to his donors, to Cash for Clunkers…putting all those things before Immigration, he has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on Day 1, but didn’t. I think you deserve better.
Some people have asked if I will let stand the President’s Executive Order. The answer is, I will put in place my own long-term solution which will replace and supersede the President’s temporary measure.
As President, I won’t settle for stop-gap measures. I’ll work with Republicans and Democrats to build a long-term solution and I’ll prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it more transparent and easier, and I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil and resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it.
Let me speak about some of the guidelines I will use in putting together that policy. As you’ve heard me say many times, it is critical that we redouble our efforts to secure the borders – that means preventing illegal border crossings and making it harder to illegally overstay a visa. We should field enough border patrol agents, complete a high-tech fence and implement an improved exit verification system.
Our immigration system should help promote strong families as well, and not keep them apart. Our Nation benefits when Moms and Dads are kids are all together under the same roof. But today to many families are caught in a broken system, costing time and money and entangles the in excessive red tape. For those seeking to come to America the right way, we can do this with just a few common sense reforms.
As president, I’d reallocate green cards to those seeking to keep their families under one roof, and will exempt from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents, and will eliminate other forms of bureaucratic red tape that keep families from coming together.
Immigration reform is not just a moral imperative. It’s also an economic necessity. Immigrants with advanced degrees start companies, and they drive innovation at a very high rate. Immigrants founded or co-founded nearly half of our Top 50 venture-backed companies in the U.S. They are nearly 30% more likely to start a business and that kind of risk-taking is something we need more than ever because new business start-ups in America are at a 30-year low.
I’ll work with States and employers to update our temporary worker program so that it meets economic needs, and if you get an advanced degree here, we want you to stay here – so, I’d staple a green card to the diploma of someone who gets an advanced degree in America.
We want the best and brightest to enrich the Nation with the jobs and technology they are going to create.
Now, we also have a strong tradition in this country of honoring immigrants who join our Military and put their lives on the line to keep the country safe. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has naturalized almost 75,000 members of the Armed Forces. Too many of those patriots died on distant battlefields for our freedom before receiving full citizenship here in the country they called home. As President I will stand for a path to legal status for anyone who is willing to stand up and defend this great Nation through Military service. Those who have risked their lives in the defense of America have earned their right to make their life in America.
But improving access to legal immigration is only one part of the equation. We must also make legal immigration more attractive than illegal immigration so that people are rewarded for waiting patiently in line. That’s why my administration will establish a strong, employment verification system so that every business can know with confidence that the people it hires are legally eligible for employment.
End partial transcript
Mitt Romney Speech Before the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) (video)