Is this the "Etch-a-Sketch" moment or merely a change in emphasis? Romney has taken some pretty tough positions on immigration including endorsing the Arizona law, pushing for "self deportation", threatening to veto the DREAM Act, etc. To be fair, he has been consistent in supporting skilled worker immigration reform and this is what he's emphasizing now. He seems to be trying to argue that the White House is against such reform which is not entirely true. The Obama Administration has announced support for many of the same pro-legal immigration measures backed by Romney. However, they have also let the US Department of Labor, US Citizenship and Immigration Services and State Department enact one anti-immigration policy after another and while USCIS Director Mayorkas is trying to push through some needed reforms, he is getting enormous pushback from within the agency and has yet to be able to address many of the serious long term problems facing that agency.
On the other hand, one of the biggest factors affecting the future of immigration policy in this country may be having committed, skilled, strong agency leaders seeking to improve the system. For example, Director Mayorkas is probably the most effective USCIS Director I've seen in my 22 years working as an immigration lawyer (and as a 44 year old, that's half my life!). I'd encourage both President Obama and Governor Romney to do what it takes to keep Mayorkas in that position regardless of who wins the election. As for the Labor Department, Hilda Solis has basically ignored immigration and allowed her Department's offiicals to pursue protectionist, anti-business immigration policies. The State Department has been a mixed bag with real attention now being focused on how the consulates' harsh attitudes are affecting tourism in the US. But we're seeing serious problems with skilled worker visa processing at many consulates (such as India) and few indications that DOS even acknowledges a problem.