DENVER (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he would honor temporary work permits for young illegal immigrants who were allowed to stay in the U.S. because of an executive order signed this summer by President Barack Obama.
Romney told The Denver Post, in an interview appearing in Tuesday's edition, that people who are able to earn the two-year visas to stay and work wouldn't see them revoked under a Romney administration.
"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 told the Post, promising to put a comprehensive immigration reform plan into place before those visas expire.
In June, Obama issued an executive order that allows some young illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to avoid deportation. Romney criticized Obama for circumventing Congress to make the change a few months before the presidential election.
During the Republican presidential primary, Romney said he would veto legislation to provide a path to citizenship for some of the young people who benefited from Obama's executive order.
Throughout the Republican primary, Romney took an aggressive tack on immigration, saying in debates that he approved of "self-deportation," where undocumented workers would choose to leave on their own because they were unable to find work in the U.S. He assailed rival Rick Perry, the Texas governor, for allowing illegal immigrants to attend Texas state colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates.
Romney also said he would veto the so-called DREAM Act, legislation that would have allowed a path to citizenship the children of illegal immigrants if they meet certain education or service requirements. Romney has always said he supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who serve in the military.
After rival Rick Santorum dropped out of the primary, leaving Romney the presumptive Republican nominee, the former Massachusetts governor indicated he would review potential legislation from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio that would have allowed some young illegal immigrants a way to stay in the country.
At a Univision forum last month, Romney said: "I'm not going to be rounding people up and deporting them from the country. ... I will put in an immigration reform plan that solves this issue."
The Denver Post interview comes as Romney and Obama are fighting a heated battle for Colorado, whose significant Hispanic population could determine which candidate receives the state's nine electoral votes.