Rick Perry has faced criticism from some conservatives opposed to illegal immigration for some of his positions on the issue, but the Texas governor is showing no signs of backing down. In an interview Thursday with conservative talk radio host Mark Levin, Perry defended Texas's law that allows in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants and said he remains opposed to a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
"There are places along the border that strategic fencing worked, particularly in the metropolitan areas," Perry said. "The idea that we're going to build a wall from El Paso to Brownsville doesn't make sense 'cause the fact of the matter is you know, number one, you'd never get it built, and it'd cost billions of dollars ... by the time you go from Tijuana to Brownsville." Perry said that he does support putting "boots on the ground" and using "aviation assets" (i.e. aerial drones) to secure the border.
When asked about Texas's law allowing in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, Perry said: "I don't believe these individuals should be punished for a decision their parents made through no fault of their own." Perry explained in-state tuition is allowed to any resident who has lived in Texas for three years, graduated from a Texas high school and is on a path to citizenship.
Asked if he'd support a similar law at the federal level known as the DREAM Act, Perry said "absolutely not ... it ought to be a state by state issue."
Mitt Romney drew a contrast with Perry on the issue during a speech in Florida today. "As governor, I vetoed legislation that would have provided in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants and I strengthened the authority our state troopers had to enforce existing immigration laws,” Romney said. (In 2007, Romney attacked Mike Huckabee over in-state tuition for illegal immigrants in Arkansas. The issue obviously wasn't enough to bring him victory in Iowa.)