Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney changed his tune Monday and told The Denver Post he would honor President Barack Obama's two-year deferred-deportation program.
"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," Romney said. "I'm not going to take something that they've purchased."
Romney also said he would have a "full immigration plan" in place by the time the permits expire for the first group of participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The program, open to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. between the ages of 16 and 31, gives them the chance to apply for the two-year visas if they pay $465 and meet academic or military requirements and have no "serious" felonies on their criminal record.
It is also opening up more opportunities for participants; California Gov. Jerry Brown approved a bill Sunday allowing DACA immigrants to apply for driver's licenses; and community college officials in Arizona are reportedly considering allowing the permits to work as proof of residency for students seeking in-state tuition rates.
Last month, Romney criticized the program in a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, accusing Obama of "playing politics" with childrens' lives. In June, he told a Latino business group in Florida he would implement a plan of his own to "supersede" the program allowing immigrants to seek a path to citizenship, but only through military service.
He has also openly opposed the DREAM Act, which would have provided a similar pathway to citizenship as DACA, even as members of his campaign team have criticized Democrats for not being able to get it passed in Congress despite being blocked by Senate Republicans. Romney supporters have also attacked DREAM Act advocates at past campaign stops.