This is not a comprehensive summary of each candidates’ expressed opinions or actions related to immigration, but rather a light preview highlighting their interactions with the subject during the last seven to eight years.
- 2005 - Obama cosponsors the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. This act, introduced by Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy, included legalization for undocumented immigrants, guest worker programs, and border enforcement.
- September 2006 – Obama votes for the Secure Fence Act, which approved $1.2 billion for a fence along the U.S./Mexico border.
- June 2007 - Obama votes no on a provision to make English the official language of the U.S. government.
- 2008 - While campaigning, Obama promises to tackle immigration reform within his first year of office.
- June 25, 2009 – Obama holds meeting with 30 lawmakers whose views vary on immigration to begin an effort to form a bipartisan bill on immigration.
- July 1, 2010 - Following a meek of meeting with lawmakers on the topic, Obama gives first major speech on immigration as president, advocating for a “comprehensive solution” for the issue.
- January 2011 – Obama ends Bush-era border fence project which cost $1 billion.
- May 10, 2011 - Obama mocks emphasis on border enforcement to solve illegal immigration: “Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.”
- 2012 - The Obama Administration deports more individuals in its first three years than any administration since the 1950s.
- June 2012 – Obama tells Republicans in Congress to send him the DREAM Act, saying he will “sign it right away.”
- June 15, 2012 - Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announces the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, set forth by the Obama Administration to re-prioritize removals; granting qualifying individuals a two year reprieve from deportation and work authorization.
- 2004 - Romney vetoes a bill passed by the Massachusetts legislature to grant in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. He also threatens to veto a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.
- March 2006 – While refusing to comment on proposed immigration legislation, Romney states he would like to see reforms that encourage illegal workers to register with the government, pay taxes and apply for citizenship.
- December 16, 2007 – In a Meet the Press interview, Romney expresses that he supports undocumented immigrants having some sort of pathway to apply for legal residence and citizenship.
- 2008 - During the 2008 presidential primary campaign, Romney embraces the support of Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
- May 3, 2009 – Romney calls immigration a high priority, urgent issue, saying he wishes to increase legal immigration.
- December 31, 2011 – Romney explicitly states that as president he would veto the DREAM Act.
- January 2012 – Romney suggests that “self deportation” is the ultimate solution for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
- January 26, 2012 – Romney states that he believes English should be the official language of the United States.
- February 2012 - Romney calls Arizona’s E-Verify mandate as a “model” for the rest of the country. Said that on Day One he would drop the Obama Administration’s suit against Arizona, challenging SB 1070.
- June 21, 2012 – Romeny explains at National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Annual Meeting that while he doesn’t support the DREAM Act, he would offer qualifying applicants a path to legal residency – not citizenship – in exchange for military service.
- June – October 2012 – Romney changes his position on undocumented immigrants going into the military, saying that they would be eligible for permanent residency, and thus eventually citizenship.
- October 1, 2012 – Romney says he would not revoke deferred action for the childhood arrivals who receive it under the Obama Administration’s program.
- October 2, 2012 - “I actually will propose a piece of legislation which will reform our immigration system to improve legal immigration so people don’t have to hire lawyers to figure out how to get here legally.”
- October 3, 2012 – Romney’s campaign clarifies that while a Romney Administration would not revoke grants of deferred action, it would discontinue the program immediately upon taking office.
- October 16, 2012 – Romney again suggests he will streamline the immigration system, making it so applicants do not need an attorney to enter the country legally.