The GOP debate tonight in Orlando, Florida highlighted the issue of immigration, which put Texas Governor Rick Perry on the defensive. Perry’s mood quickly became dour as all the other candidates were clearly in favor of tighter immigration policies.
With Perry on top and neck and neck with Mitt Romney, the candidates took every opportunity to make Perry look bad on the important issues.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and Perry sparred over building a fence along the Mexican border, with Santorum in favor of securing the border, Perry asked, “Have you ever even been to the border with Mexico?” Santorum responded with a strong, “Yes I have.” Perry made it seem impossible to build a fence covering 1,800 miles.
Santorum chided Perry’s idea of bi-national health insurance with Mexico. Santorum thought the idea was worse than Obama care. Perry bristled at the comparison, while the audience applauded.
Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Santorum all agreed that a fence along the entire Mexican border is necessary to keep illegal aliens out. Romney nailed Perry about his state offering an in-state tuition discount of $20,000 per year, when out of state American students pay higher out of state fees to attend the University of Texas.
Historically, Governors from Texas are anti-border fence. At stake is the Hispanic vote. With such large numbers of Hispanic voters, being pro-fence would be a death sentence for a standing governor in Texas. Many of Perry’s views match those of former Texas governor George W. Bush.
Perry stood alone in his pro-immigration stance. He attempted to pull heart strings with his explanation of how leaving a child of an immigrant, without an education, and possibly becoming a burden, is ‘heartless.’
Romney called benefits for illegal immigrants, ‘magnets.’ These magnets are a source that attracts large numbers to our country. Numbers that take jobs, government benefits, and money away from a coffer that is nearly depleted.
Bachmann brought up the issue of President Obama suing the state of Arizona for using a private, unpaid militia to patrol the border.
With so many Americans without jobs, I was anticipating one of the pro-fence debaters tonight to bring up how many thousands of jobs would be generated if the enormous border fence building project ever went forward. This would be akin to a project generated by FDR to get us out of the great depression.
There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in America. Should we go on as we always have, by ignoring this issue, or should we tackle immigration?