In an appeal to Hispanic voters Monday, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney outlined his immigration plan to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Romney, speaking at the chamber's convention in Los Angeles, blamed both parties for failing to fix the country's immigration system.
Romney is trying to woo a chunk of the Hispanic vote, which swung widely for Obama in the 2008 presidential election and viewed as critical in this election cycle.
He reminded the organization that Obama as a candidate in 2008 said one of his top priorities would be to fix during his first year in office.
"Despite his party having majorities in both house of Congress, the president never even offered up a bill," Romney said. "Like so many issues confronting our nation, when it comes to immigration, politics has been put ahead of people for too long."
Romney pledged to work with both parties fix immigration.
"We will never achieve a legal immigration system that is fair and efficient if we do not first get control of our borders," he said. "I believe we can all agree that what we need are fair and enforceable immigration laws that will stem the flow of illegal immigration, while strengthening legal immigration."
If someone gets an advanced degree, "I want them to stay here, so I'd staple a green card to their diploma," Romney said.
He also said he'd revamp the temporary worker visa programs to simplify it for employers and would simplify the employment verification system and penalize any employer found breaking the rules.
"I will pursue permanent immigration reform," Romney said, "I will start by ensuring that those who serve in our military have the opportunity to become permanent legal residents in the country they fought to defend. Those who risked their lives in defense of America have earned the right to make their life in America."
He also placed blame for double-digit unemployment among Hispanics at Obama's feet.
Romney said no one was exempt from the pain of 8.1-percent unemployment, but "over 2 million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day President Obama took office."
"[W]e must cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget," he said. "I believe that it is immoral for us to continue to spend more than we take in, to pass massive debts on to our children."
He repeated his pledge from the Republican National Convention that a Romney administration would create 12 million jobs by the end of his first term.
He said many Hispanics sacrificed to build the country and its economy but now "those sacrifices are being squandered by a president who cannot stop spending."
"I know how to balance budgets," Romney said. "We balanced our budget in my business, and at the Olympics, and every year in my state."
He pledged to put the federal government on a path to a balanced by budget by eliminating programs that are not "absolutely essential," cutting subsidies, and sending programs "that have been growing uncontrollably fast back to the states" where he would limit their funding to the rate of inflation, or in the case of Medicaid, to inflation plus 1 percent.
He said he would improve efficiency in Washington, in part, reducing the number of federal employees through attrition and aligning the government payroll to the private sector.
Obama believes that government can do a better job than its citizens, Romney said.
"I believe you can do a better job than government," he said. "I believe that you, and that your dreams and freedoms, will build a stronger future for all of us, and for our children."
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