By Jennifer Martinez - 10/17/12 02:30 AM EDT
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney called for immigration reform for high-skilled workers during Tuesday night's debate so foreign-born graduates with advanced math, science and engineering degrees could stay in the United States.
"I also think we should give visas to people, green cards rather, to people who graduate with skills that we need. People around the world with accredited degrees in science and math, get a green card stapled to their diploma," Romney said during the town-hall debate at Hofstra University in New York state in response to a question on immigration policy.
In his answer, Obama also lauded immigrants in the U.S. and noted that they have founded some of the most prominent American tech companies.
"They provide us energy and they provide us innovation, and they start companies like Intel and Google, and we want to encourage that," Obama said.
Obama pushed back against Romney's claims that he hasn't tried to promote immigration reform, saying that Republicans in Congress have blocked such legislative efforts.
"I can deliver, governor, a whole bunch of Democrats to get comprehensive immigration reform done, and we have not seen Republicans serious about this issue at all, and it's time for them to get serious on it," Obama said.
Boosting the number of visas for foreign-born graduates with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields is an issue that enjoys bipartisan support. However, efforts to pass high-skilled immigration bills have stalled because they get caught up in the larger immigration reform debate.