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Des Moines Register - Romney: Reform Immigration, Allow Students To Stay

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Location: Council Bluffs, IA

Des Moines Register - Romney: Reform Immigration, Allow Students To Stay

By: Maggie O'Brien

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told about 300 southwest Iowa supporters Thursday that he maintains his tough stance on illegal immigration but proposes offering foreign students attending U.S. colleges and universities the chance to remain legally in the country upon graduation.

"Our immigration laws are upside-down," Romney said. "It makes no sense at all that we have concrete borders with people who have skills and education, but we're wide open to people who have neither."

The former Massachusetts governor, who spoke at an invitation-only luncheon at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, has criticized Democrats as well as Republican rivals for their views on immigration. He has said he opposes a proposal by Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain that would grant some illegal immigrants citizenship.

"I don't think there should be a pathway to citizenship for people who are here illegally," Romney said.

Romney is credited with rescuing the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City from certain bankruptcy after taking over as president and CEO. He served one term as governor - from 2002 until January of this year - and announced his candidacy for president a month later.

Romney worked the room as the luncheon continued, greeting Republican guests who ranged from Treynor High School students to retirees.

"The best part of my day is shaking your hand, table to table," he told the crowd.

He briefly attacked Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, saying they lack the leadership qualities necessary to lead in the White House.

"The presidency of the United States is not an 'intern job,' " Romney said. "I'm proud to say that I have led. ... These years of leading and learning have prepared me to make America a more prosperous place for my kids and my grandkids."

Romney said he supports the current administration and U.S. troops in Iraq, but acknowledged that mistakes have been made. He supports a gradual withdrawal of troops because "to leave abruptly now would cause confusion."

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