At the September 12 CNN/Tea Party Express debate at the Florida State Fair Grounds in Tampa, Texas Governor Rick Perry defended his position that a border fence with Mexico is not feasible, stating he has more experience with immigration matters than his competitors who advocate for a fence.
Rather than a fence, Perry contended that an increased military presence along the border is called for.
Perry was also taken to task for allowing illegal immigrants working toward naturalization to pay in-state college tuition in Texas. He countered that it is “the American way” to enable individuals who were brought to the country as children to become contributing members of society.
Perry’s closest competitor in the polls, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, responded by saying, “With regards to illegal immigration, of course we build a fence and of course we do not give in-state tuition credits to people who come here illegally. That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America’s great beneficence.”
Among the other candidates, Sen. Ron Paul of Texas and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich have said, like Perry, they believe more troops should be deployed along the border, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has said she does not want to extend “taxpayer subsidized benefits” to illegal immigrants.