Perry Reaffirms Support for Texas DREAM Act

Texas Governor and potential 2012 Presidential nominee Rick Perry still supports his state's DREAM Act ten years after it was passed despite strong Republican opposition - but he maintains he does not support the act at the federal level.

In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, Perry reiterated his long-standing support for his state's bipartisan passing of the 2001 DREAM Act.

“To punish these young Texans for their parents' actions is not what America has always been about,” he said.

The state act allows for in-state tuition for undocumented students who have lived in the state for three years and have either obtained a GED or graduated from state public or accredited private schools. In contrast, the federal DREAM Act goes a step further by potentially providing a pathway to citizenship to some undocumented immigrants who show good moral character and either go to a four year college or join the military.

Texas' longest serving governor has tried to walk a fine line between appealing to Texas' growing Hispanic population - now 36.8 percent- and right wing groups that have demanded tougher stances on illegal immigration and voter identification laws. The scrutiny is only expected to intensify if Perry chooses to enter the Republican primary, where conservative voters will expect a tough-line immigration policy.

“It is very dangerous for American citizens to have a President who turns a blind eye to what's going on on the border,” he said to the New Hampshire Union Leader on Sunday.

Perry has gone as far as rejecting Arizona's controversial SB1070 immigration law, hailing it as a bill that was not right for Texas - a state with a history of rejecting harsh anti-immigrant policies.

"I fully recognize and support a state's right and obligation to protect its citizens, " Perry said in a written statement to the Associated Press. "But I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas."

Perry calls the federal government's plan to secure the borders "an abject failure" which forced Texas to essentially do the job he believes is intended for Washington.

Although Perry has still not officially announced a run for President, the governor has recently made appearances at Latino events, including most notably last month's address to the National Association of Latino Elected Appointed Officials.

A poll released Tuesday from the American Research Group has Perry at the top of the pack of Republican presidential candidates in Florida, another key- and heavily Latino state.

This article contains some reporting from the Associated Press.

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