The Obama administration has lent its support to a measure in Congress called the DREAM Act, which would create a path for citizenship for young illegal immigrants who meet similar conditions to the just-announced deferment action.
Romney, meanwhile, staked out one of the most conservative immigration stances of all during his Republican primary, calling for all illegal immigrants to return to their home countries before being eligible for U.S. citizenship. He's also said he opposes the DREAM Act or any type of amnesty.
A request for comment from the Romney campaign regarding the Obama administration's announcement was not immediately returned.
Steffen Schmidt, CNN Espanol analyst and political professor at Iowa State University, noting that Obama's immigration policies had been tougher than Bush's, says the move is already creating buzz in the Hispanic community.
"It's going to really mobilize people who were distressed that there was no alternative to harsher Republican policies," he says.
Schmidt adds that many in the Latino community were waiting for a such a sign from the Obama administration and that politically, the timing is very good.
Thanks to what is expected to remain an extremely close race, the turnout of groups such as Latinos, an ever-growing segment of the U.S. population, will likely be a key factor in the election's outcome.
- Read: Why Hispanic voters matter in 2012
- See a slideshow of cities with the largest Latino populations
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Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.