Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)National Journal

If he is elected, Mitt Romney would allow the children of illegal immigrants who receive temporary work permits under an executive order issued by President Obama earlier this year to stay in the country, Romney told The Denver Post on Monday.

"The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," Romney told the Post. "Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed."

Obama issued a controversial executive order in June that would award work permits to children of illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements, such as graduating from a U.S. high school and obeying the law, allowing them to stay in the country temporarily.

This shift in immigration policy has been criticized for bypassing Congress after lawmakers did not pass the DREAM Act, which would have provided young illegal immigrants a path to citizenship by serving in the military or going to college.

Romney also said he would work with Congress during the first year of his presidency to pass permanent immigration reform, but didn't offer details. He has previously supported a path to citizenship for students who serve in the military.   

"I actually will propose a piece of legislation which will reform our immigration system to improve legal immigration so people don't have to hire lawyers to figure out how to get here legally," Romney told the Post. "The president promised in his first year, his highest priority, that he would reform immigration and he didn't. And I will."

This article is part of our Next America: Communities project, which is supported by a grant from Emerson Collective.

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