Mitch McConnell Waiting on Mitt Romney on DREAM Act

Posted June 19, 2012 at 2:31pm

Updated: 3:44 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said today he’s waiting for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to announce a position on whether he supports deporting young illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children.

“He is the leader of our party from now until November,” McConnell said, explaining why he didn’t want to comment on the matter.

President Barack Obama announced Friday his decision to stop deportations of young immigrants eligible for the DREAM Act, but Romney has for days ducked questions on what should be done with the estimated 800,000 people who would qualify. During the presidential primaries Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act, but now faces a general election in which Obama is counting on Hispanic voters to help put him over the top.

McConnell said Romney was scheduled to talk to Latino leaders on Thursday. The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16, have been in the United States for five years, are younger than 30 and go to college or join the military. Obama’s order merely defers action for renewable two year periods, during which eligible people could work. But the policy could be reversed by a future president. Romney hasn’t said whether he would reverse it.

Asked if he thought allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the United States was amnesty, McConnell said that could be argued if it leads to citizenship.

When asked for his reaction to McConnell waiting for Romney and whether he would bring the DREAM Act to the floor to put people on record, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) quipped, “That’s a clown question, bro” — a reference to Nationals star Bryce Harper, who made a similar remark to a sports reporter recently.

Reid then proceeded to answer the question, saying that Romney has ducked repeatedly over what he would do. And he said Democrats have already tried twice to pass the DREAM Act, only to run into GOP filibusters.