/ Modified jun 22, 2012 12:06 p.m.

UPDATE: Obama, Romney Clash on Immigration

They make competing presentations to influential Latino organization

By The Associated Press

President Obama told Latino leaders Friday that as long as he is president, he "will not give up the fight" to reform immigration laws.

The president said in a speech at the annual convention of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Orlando, Fla., that the nation needs a comprehensive immigration solution.

His Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, has opposed a measure that would have created a path to citizenship for some children of illegal immigrant, Obama said.

He said Romney has "promised to veto the DREAM Act and we should take him at his word."

Romney spoke to the group Thursday, outlining a broad immigration and criticizing Obama for lack of action on comprehensive reform.

Romney told the delegates that Obama didn't act when he had strong majorities in both houses of Congress and is only now trying to adjust his policies Latino voting favor in time for the fall election.

Comprehensive reform with limited bipartisan support -- largely led by Republican Sen. John McCain -- died in the Senate when most Republicans wouldn't support it several years ago.

Facing a reelection challenge in 2010, McCain changed direction and toughened his stance on immigration, calling for securing the border before any comprehensive reform was considered.

Romney also emphasized in his speech that Latinos have suffered more than the population as a whole under Obama's economic policies. He said while the national unemployment rate is around 8 percent, unemployment among Latinos is 11 percent.

Obama decreed last week that many young illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children would be exempted from deportation and granted work permits good for two years.

The immigration initiative has drawn renewed attention to the key Latino voting bloc and its potential for affecting the presidential election with its turnout and energy.

At the same time, Republicans criticized Obama for usurping congressional authority by executive fiat with the decision about young illegal immigrants.

Under Obama, deportations of illegal immigrants have increased dramatically. The administration has said it is focusing on the criminal element among illegal immigrants.

Latinos make up 16 percent of the U.S. population, or about 50 million, according to the 2010 U.S. census. An estimated 11 million illegal immigrants live in the United States, most of them Latino.

Latinos have a relatively poor record of turning out to vote, although they take credit for helping elect Obama in 2008.

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