Tuesday July 24, 2012

BOSTON (AP) -- Mitt Rom ney adopted a mixed bag of immigration policies during his four years as Massachusetts governor.

He fought against in-state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants, pushed hard to give state troopers expanded powers to arrest those in the country illegally, and championed English-only classes for bilingual education students.

Yet Romney also showed a more compassionate side, personally interceding on behalf of an immigrant teacher facing deportation whose case drew heavy news coverage across the state. In 2004, Romney signed into law a requirement that immigration judges warn non-citizen defendants that pleading guilty to certain crimes could ultimately lead to their deportation.

Romney has recommended more funding for English as a Second Language programs because he wanted to help newcomers to this country become better equipped to compete for jobs by learning English, his campaign noted.

Romney's varied record on immigration after being elected governor in 2002 could help shed light on how he'd tackle the issue if he becomes president.

"Mitt Romney's view is that immigration is what built this country and that we should encourage legal immigration, but that we are also a nation of laws and that we should say no to illegal immigration," Rom ney spokesman Eric Fehrn strom said in an e-mailed statement. "This very simple view is what informed Mitt Romney's policies as governor.


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Candidate Romney has presented differing profiles during the 2012 campaign.

He struck a hard line during the GOP primary season as he courted conservative voters, but softened his rhetoric on immigration after emerging as the likely Republican nominee, seeking to gain ground with Latino voters critical to his chances in the fall against President Barack Obama.

Romney's campaign is working to woo Hispanics who have supported Democrats in previous presidential elections. Their support is expected to be critical in battleground states such as Nevada, Florida, Virginia and Colo rado, where significant populations with Mexican and Central Amer ican origins are especially worried about imm igration policy.

Heading into the leadoff Iowa caucuses in January and facing the challenge of winning over the right-wing GOP base, Romney vowed to veto the so-called DREAM Act, a bill backed by Democrats that would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.