Published September 24, 2011
On Thursday in Orlando at the Republican presidential debate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum both repeated untruths about Texas Governor Rick Perry's immigration position and it is time to set the record straight.
First let me say, I've not endorsed a candidate and though I've predicted a Perry win in 2012, it is not based on a personal desire, but rather the assessment of all the data that I believe the general election race will be dependent on. I did the same thing in 2006, predicting a Barack Obama win, but by no means endorsing his candidacy.
Second let me also say, this week's debate performance by Governor Rick Perry was bizarre. He seemed to run out of complete steam in the final thirty minutes.
But on Thursday evening it did become clear that the GOP opponents intend to rhetorically bloody Governor Perry as best they can until they begin to be eliminated from the race.
In the debate, Chris Wallace asked a direct question to Mitt Romney regarding the in-state tuition rates of children who live in the state, but happen to have parents who came here illegally.
Mitt Romney replied:
"I don't see how it is that a state like Texas--to go to the University of Texas--if you're an illegal alien--you get an in-state tuition discount. D'you know how much that is? It's twenty-two thousand dollars a year. Four years of college you're almost a hundred thousand dollar discount if you're an illegal alien--if you go to the University of Texas. If you're a United States citizen, from any one of the other forty-nine states, you have to pay a hundred thousand dollars more. That doesn't make sense to me. And that kind of magnet, draws people into this country, to get that education, to get that kind of hundred thousand dollar break, it makes no sense..."
I was surprised that Chris Wallace didn't interrupt him and force him answer the question he had actually been asked.
Maybe Mitt Romney doesn't realize that many children of illegal aliens, aren't illegals themselves. As long as "birthright citizenship" is the law, "anchor babies" are protected under the law as American citizens.
Maybe Mitt Romney doesn't realize that nearly all of the rest of children of illegals, had no choice in whether to live in Texas or not. If they were brought there by parents who were illegal--how is that the child's fault? Is Romney ready to charge those children with crimes? Mass deportations?
I don't think so. Even Romney has not pledged to go that far.
Maybe Mitt Romney somehow missed the point that Governor Perry's problem is one that the federal government created for him.
By refusing to enforce current immigration law, the Obama administration has made life for border states unbelievably difficult. In some cases the Federal Government is even attempting to choke out state's rights to react to border issues at all.
Maybe Mitt Romney has complete ignorance of what the reality of dealing with the border actually means--in real terms. Gov. Perry had to raise $400 million in state taxes to attempt to shore up the border and do the job that the Feds should be doing.
Or maybe Governor Romney believes he doesn't need any votes from Hispanics-Americans and legal immigrants who are wrestling with the real issue of being in a position where their family's future is in question.
But to set the record straight, it was the state of Texas, and most specifically its lawfully elected legislature that drafted the legislation and passed it. Only 4 votes out 181 possible were cast against it.
Yes ,Governor Perry signed it into law, but it was a definitively bipartisan initiative that the people of Texas clearly wanted to see become law.
Additionally Governor Perry has actual compassion for these children of immigrants who ended up in his state--outside of their own doing. To him, educating these kids gets them working and contributing to the state's treasury faster, and more meaningfully than isolating them on the sidelines.
Despite what the unusually angry Rick Santorum offered, all the legislation did was allow those children (NOT ILLEGAL ALIENS AT LARGE) to get the same "starting point" for in state institutions that all of their classmates got.
The stupid argument that Romney and Santorum grew red-faced over didn't seem to hold true against Texas where non-Texan students would have to pay $88,000 more than other Texas-raised children. States discriminate that way against other children from other regions of the country--all the time.
President Obama will need to re-energize the American Hispanic vote in order to win re-election. This group of voters has largely left him over the economy, and they were never with him on his values in the first place.
But Mitt Romney is verging on the edge alienating this group, too, in part because he is not telling the truth about the Texas legislature's law to allow some children to simply pay the same amount of tuition as the kids they sit next to in class.
In short Perry knows this problem intimately. And it will be a cold day in Hades before he ever signs a federal version of the "Dream Act." He believes in fencing, technology, state's rights, and workplace incentives. -- Which more or less means he believes in the same enforcement techniques as all the rest of the GOP field.
For Santorum and Romney to pretend otherwise is sanctimonious and dishonest.
Kevin McCullough is the nationally syndicated host of "The Kevin McCullough Show" weekdays & "Baldwin/McCullough *LIVE*" Saturdays (9-11pm EST) on 297 stations. His newest best-selling hardcover from Thomas Nelson Publishers, "No He Can't: How Barack Obama is Dismantling Hope and Change" is in stores now.