WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mitt Romney blasted President Barack Obama on Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld part of an Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration that Romney had endorsed while seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
"Today's decision underscores the need for a president who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy," Romney said in a statement that did not directly address the particulars of the law or the ruling.
He called the immigration issue a "broken promise" by the Democratic president, whom he faces in the November 6 election.
"I believe that each state has the duty - and the right - to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities," Romney said.
The Supreme Court upheld the requirement that police check the immigration status of anyone they stop, rejecting the Obama administration's stance that only the U.S. government should enforce immigration laws in the United States.
But the court ruled that three other provisions in the Arizona law went too far in intruding on federal law, including one making it a crime for illegal immigrants to work and another requiring them to carry their documents.
Polls show Obama enjoys up to a 3-to-1 advantage over Romney among Hispanic voters, as Romney has struggled to frame an immigration message that would appeal to the fast-growing group and please conservatives in his own party, whose efforts on immigration tend to focus mostly on securing the border with Mexico.
Seeking to appeal to his party's right wing, Romney took a hard line against illegal immigration during the Republican primary elections, including saying he felt the Arizona law would be a good model for the country as a whole. He has not offered a detailed immigration plan of his own.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Will Dunham)