During the Republican presidential debate in Florida, Governor Rick Perry’s stand on immigration landed him in second in the straw poll. The issue that cost him a large number of supporters was his support of the Texas bill that made Texas the first state to let illegal immigrant children pay in-state college tuition. The illegal immigrant children who are eligible for these grants are those who have lived in Texas for three years and are in the process of seeking permanent resident status in the United States. Texas is the first state to have passed this bill, and many of its residents are highly displeased that illegal immigrants are allowed this financial privilege. In fact, just last year sixteen thousand illegal immigrants took advantage of this bill. Depending on the universities they attended, the amount of money they were granted varied. However, in expensive universities such as the University of Texas, the total sum of the grant was $100,000 per illegal immigrant. These sums were, of course, financed by the tax payers.
Governor Perry’s reasoning for his stand is that: “If you say that we should not educate children who come into our state for no other reason than that they’ve been brought there through no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society.” He argues that the children illegally immigrated to the United States through no fault of their own – they were brought by their parents, and thereby do not deserve to be punished for their parents’ actions. Mitt Romney challenged Governor Perry’s stand, saying: “I think if you are opposed to illegal immigration, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a heart. It means you have a heart and a brain.”
Despite Perry’s humanitarian stand on giving illegal immigrant children a more affordable college education, he also has a firm stand opposing illegal immigration. He opposes the DREAM Act, opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, and has spent ten years and $400 million securing Texas’ border from illegal immigration. It has yet to be seen whether his stand on immigration will change in the months to come, but at present Governor Perry is opposed to illegal immigration, but is sympathetic to those children and young adults who are here through no fault of their own and who will through education be an economic benefit rather than a drain for Texas. Seeing that Texas has a large Mexican population and that reform is clearly needed on immigration, his weakness here for Republicans could be a strength if he is the Republican candidate.