Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the current frontrunner among Republican presidential candidates, was assailed Monday by both Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Tea Party members for his views on immigration.
Bachmann, who was campaigning in Iowa, denounced Perry's support for public benefits for the children of undocumented immigrants as well as his opposition to building a fence on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Bachmann supports completion of the fence. She opposes allowing children of undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition, a policy Perry supports.
She is devoting most of her campaigning to Iowa, where she won an important test vote in August but has slipped since Perry entered the race.
In Texas, the chair of the advisory committee for the Legislature's Tea Party Caucus called on Perry, who is in New York on a two-day trip, to leave the presidential campaign trail and help push for a measure that would ban sanctuary cities.
"Governor Perry needs to clarify where he stands on illegal immigration and he needs to come back to Texas and finish the people's unfinished business," said the chair, JoAnn Fleming, according to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.
"Governor Perry needs to take care of the issue," the newspaper quoted Fleming as saying. "If it was an emergency item in January, if it was an emergency item in May for the special session, it is an emergency item today."
Cities that are labeled "sanctuaries" typically ban their public employees from asking the public about immigration status.
The Statesman said Perry put a ban on sanctuary cities "on his list of emergency items, meaning he wanted the Legislature to tackle them promptly." The ban did not pass during the legislative session.
Perry, who was scheduled to meet with Latino business leaders in New York on Monday afternoon, has been criticized by more conservative factions of his party for what they see as his lax positions on illegal immigration.
Perry has said he supports allowing undocumented immigrants to attend public colleges at in-state tuition rates. He signed an in-state tuition measure several years ago.
He also has expressed support for measures that would make it easier for guest workers to come to the United States, and for strengthening relations with Mexico. Perry also said he opposes an Arizona-style immigration law "which empowers police to enforce immigration measures" for Texas.
Perry, however, also has asked the Obama Administration for 1,000 National Guard troops along the border, and for a $350 million reimbursement for jailing undocumented immigrants.
The Statesman quoted a Perry spokeswoman, Luch Nashed, as saying that Perry opposes sanctuary cities.
"He made ending sanctuary city policies an emergency item in the 2011 legislative session and added it to the special session agenda," Nashed is quoted as saying in the newspaper. "Unfortunately, the Legislature did not finally pass the sanctuary city ban in the regular or special session, despite the fact that both chambers separately passed it."
This story contains material from The Associated Press.