Debate Skirts Immigration Issue

Immigration reform was not addressed at the Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire on October 11, which might have been a mixed blessing for Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was not given a chance to defend policies he instituted in the Lone Star State – particularly a policy giving certain illegal immigrant college students in-state tuition benefits – that have been the source of controversy.

Prior to the New Hampshire debate, Perry was dogged by questions about immigration at campaign stops in Iowa. Despite his efforts to clarify the nature of the Texas tuition law, which allows illegal immigrants who are on a path to citizenship and attended high school in Texas to pay in-state tuition, many voters remained unpersuaded or confused, Politico reported. The source quoted Sam Clovis, a conservative talk radio host from Sioux City, who said Perry has yet to make a cogent defense of the Texas law.

Given this recent attention on Perry’s immigration stance, it disappointed some viewers that the candidates did not address the issue at the debate. Fox News quoted Twitter user @rramirez44, who Tweeted, “100 minutes of debate and GOP candidates haven’t mentioned how they’d fix the broken immigration system, which hurts economy.”

On the other hand, the lack of discussion might reflect voters’ true priorities, as only 1 percent of respondents to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll said immigration is their No. 1 most important issue in choosing a Republican presidential candidate.