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Decision 2012: Obama, Romney Debate Immigration Reform But Provide Few Solutions

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The controversial issue of illegal immigration finally made an appearance in the second presidential debate on Tuesday, but neither candidate seemed to offer a definitive plan for reform. NY1's Washington reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.

Tuesday's presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. covered many topics, but one question from a participant in the town hall-style meeting generated the most tweets.

Nassau County resident Lorraine Osario asked, "What do you plan on doing with immigrants?"

Mitt Romney repeatedly emphasized President Barack Obama's failure to fulfill his campaign promise of introducing immigration reform in his first term.

"My view is that this president should have honored his promise to do as he said," said the Republican presidential nominee.

Obama blamed the lack of progress on obstructionist Republicans. He then touted his Deferred Action policy change, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented students, and leveled an attack on Romney for his more conservative primary campaign rhetoric.

"He said, 'I will veto the DREAM Act that would allow these young people to have access,'" said Obama.

But when it comes to laying out how each candidate would create comprehensive immigration reform and get it through Congress, details were scarce.

"What's the policy framework, what does legalization mean, what does border security mean, etc." said Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum. "But also how will the president, whether it's Romney or Obama, bring Republicans and Democrats together?"

While many Latinos have eased up on criticism of Obama since he announced his Deferred Action plan, some more conservative immigration advocates say the president had his chance and blew it.

"Obama hasn't built those relationships with Republicans; relationships that he needs to push immigration forward," said Alfonso Aguilar, the executive director of the Latino Partnership For Conservative Principles.

What is known is that Obama and Romney are essentially on the same page when it comes to border security and deporting undocumented criminals.

Where the differences become more glaring is Romney's plan for self-deportation.

"He would design policies, as far as we can tell, to make life so difficult for the undocumented that they would have to make a decision whether or not it was even practical or even humane for them to stay here," said Noorani.

Those on the right call Obama's immigration plan too broad.

"Since we don't have a mechanism for those foreign workers to enter legally and there is a demand, they still come in, and they come in illegally," said Aguilar.

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