In a move that could increase participation in the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Mitt Romney said in an interview with the Denver Post that he would not deport those young immigrants approved for the program.
“The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I’m not going to take something that they’ve purchased,” Romney said. “Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I’ve proposed.”
Basically, Romney will ensure safety and clarity for these kids for two years, without the threat of deportation. After that, his “full immigration reform plan” will kick in. You would have to believe such a plan would get any traction before thinking that these DREAM-eligible immigrants will have an option two years from now. And Romney didn’t even say whether he would continue to let people apply for DACA after his inauguration. But he’s saying that the $465 application fee will not represent a sunk cost.
This could expand participation in the program. Several reports about DACA have included concerns from DREAM-eligible immigrants that they would have their new status taken away from them by a new President. It’s all anecdotal, but the thinking is that they wouldn’t want to go through the whole process only to see it go for naught. Because of Romney’s announced hands-off approach, which will surely get major coverage in Spanish-language media, you could see a surge of applications for the program between now and the election.
So far, only 29 applicants have been approved for the program, despite thousands of applications. US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency maintaining the application process, plans to work through the backlog over the next several weeks.
Just as interesting is Romney’s lurch toward Hispanics in making this statement. Obviously he’s losing big on that front and needs to shake things up. Romney stated during the primaries a preference during the primaries for “self-deportation,” making it so miserable for undocumented immigrants in this country that they would leave of their own accord. Accepting the DACA immigrants is pretty much exactly the opposite of that. He also said in the primaries that he would veto the DREAM Act. This offers basically the same status as the DREAM Act under mostly the same guidelines. Wonder what blowback, if any, he’ll get from his own party on this.