Obama slams Romney on immigration

Obama tells Hispanic government officials that Romney promised to veto the Dream Act: "Take him at his word"

Published June 22, 2012 6:29PM (EDT)

Speaking a day after Mitt Romney addressed the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), President Obama took a victory lap over his new immigration policy and slammed the presumed GOP nominee’s harsh stance on undocumented immigration. “It’s not amnesty,” Obama said of his own policy, “it was the right thing to do.” The words were met with huge applause from the audience, which seemed generally much more receptive to Obama’s speech than Romney’s.

Most of Obama's speech was purely rhetorical, dealing with the economy and the importance of immigration. Drawing on his own diverse biography, Obama said whether immigrants came via Ellis Island, “slave ships” or “across the Rio Grande,” they were all motivated by a hope for a better life.

But Obama did not shy away from attacking Romney. He invoked his challenger several times during the speech (though never by name), referring to him as “your keynote speaker from yesterday.” His strongest attack came on immigration. Pivoting off of Romney’s charge that Obama hadn’t kept his promises to Latinos, Obama said that Romney “promised to veto the Dream Act -- and I think we should take him at his word. ... I think that would be a tragic thing, and I know you do too."

He also defended himself against charges that his new policy change made it more difficult to pass comprehensive immigration reform, saying "my door is open" to anyone willing to work with him. "We should have passed the Dream Act a long time ago. It was written by members of both parties," he added.

After the speech the Obama campaign sent an email to reporters claiming that Romney would repeal Obama's immigration ruling, pointing to a comment from the Romney campaign co-chair saying, “My anticipation is that he would probably rescind this directive were he to be elected in November.”

By Alex Seitz-Wald

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2012 Elections Barack Obama Immigration Mitt Romney