At last night’s Republican presidential debate Gov. Rick Perry defended a state law he signed that allows the children of undocumented immigrants living in Texas to pay in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities. Although Perry has attacked the federal DREAM Act as “amnesty,” anti-immigrant activists are furious over his defense of the Texas law.
In a statement, Americans for Legal Immigration-PAC president William Gheen speculated that Perry has “assured his own defeat”:
Texas Governor Perry destroyed his chances of winning the GOP Presidential primary during last night’s debate when he defended his support for in-state tuition for illegal aliens which is opposed by 81% of all Americans.
“Rick Perry proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is not the right choice for America by supporting these radical illegal immigration attracting measures,” said William Gheen, President of ALIPAC. “Perry’s support for in-state tuition for illegals forces taxpayers to pay to replace their own children in the limited seats in our colleges!”
“GOP voters cannot vote for Rick Perry now without legitimizing and supporting in-state tuition for illegal immigrants,” said William Gheen. “Perry has assured his own defeat despite the fact that he is receiving so much support and favoritism from globalist groups in the media. It is clear to me that the globalists who are responsible for illegal immigration in America are using their power to promote Rick Perry at this time.”
Chris Chmielenski of Numbers USA also criticized Perry:
Legal immigration aside, the storyline of tonight’s debate was Gov. Perry’s insistence to stand behind his decision to sign the Texas Dream Act, granting in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens. Perry’s response continues to be that these individuals will become a drag on society, but what he fails to understand is that with or without an education, these young people can’t legally work in the United States. Plus, as Rick Santorum pointed out, no one is denying illegal aliens an education. Illegal aliens can still go to the University of Texas, but they should have to pay the same tuition rate that Arizona residents who attend the University of Texas pay.
Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation wrote in an email to members that his stance will haunt him throughout the primary:
Perry blew it.
By pandering to the illegal alien vote.
Perry has gained a lot of traction from the Tea Party movement. By doubling down on the illegal alien issue, he has gained no friend and alienated many in the conservative movement.
His support of illegal aliens is hurting him.
Even American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer got into the mix, taking particular issue with Perry’s claim that those who oppose in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants don’t “have a heart”:
It’s fine to say we should not punish children for the sins of their fathers. But neither should we reward them. And we are not just rewarding the children, we are rewarding the parents, since many of them stole into the U.S. because they wanted to give their children a shot at a decent education. (The solution: help Mexico improve its educational system.) So Gov. Perry simply cannot get around the fact that he is rewarding the illegal behavior of aliens who have no right to be here. That is an exceedingly troublesome position for someone who wants to be our nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
Public schools at every level should be reserved for students who have a legal right to be in this country. The immigration status of every applicant should be checked and enrollment reserved for legal residents of the United States. If illegal aliens wants [sic] to pursue higher education, let’s repatriate them to their native land where they can pursue education to their heart’s content.