SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mitt Romney on Monday said states have a duty and a right to secure their borders even as he called for a bipartisan national immigration strategy.
The likely Republican nominee did not address the merits of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down key parts of Arizona's tough immigration enforcement law. But he used it as an opportunity to criticize President Barack Obama for inaction on immigration reform until recently.
"This represents yet another broken promise by this president. I believe that each state has the duty — and the right — to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities," Romney said in a written statement released before he left Salt Lake City to fly to a planned fundraiser in Arizona.
Romney has worked to soften his rhetoric on immigration policy since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee for president. During the Republican primary, Romney called Arizona's law a "model" — though he never explicitly endorsed the law.
The Obama administration sued to block the Arizona law soon after its enactment two years ago. During the primary, Romney said he would have ended the lawsuit against Arizona if elected president.
The Monday Supreme Court decision upholds Arizona's "show me your papers" requirement for the moment. But it takes the teeth out of it by prohibiting police officers from arresting people on minor immigration charges.
The court struck down these three major provisions: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers; making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job; and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.
Romney's response to ruling on immigration law:
"Today's decision underscores the need for a president who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this president. I believe that each state has the duty — and the right — to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities. As candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But four years later, we are still waiting."