Romney pings Perry on immigration

At the Republican National Hispanic Assembly in Florida, a state in which Mitt Romney remains the frontrunner, the former Massachusetts governor talked tough on immigration and insinuated ever-so-politely that his rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, would do little more than President Barack Obama has done (that is, nothing) to address border security and immigration reform:

Addressing the Republican National Hispanic Assembly in Florida, Mr. Romney said the U.S. “must do a better job of securing its borders, and as president, I will.” Mr. Romney said that includes “completing construction of a high-tech fence.”

Mr. Romney didn’t mention Mr. Perry by name, but the Texas governor has dismissed the idea of a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border as “ridiculous,” but has said he supports a fence in some metropolitan areas. Mr. Romney also focused on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

“Finally, we must stop providing the incentives that promote illegal immigration.  As governor, I vetoed legislation that would have provided in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants.” Under a bill Mr. Perry signed, Texas provides in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria.

That Perry is more lax than Romney on border security is perplexing, considering the illegal immigrant population in Texas is ten times that of Massachusetts. In other words, Perry has seen the problem up close and personally — and presumably would want to address it head-on. But, then, his firsthand witness no doubt has informed his views of what solutions are realistic and achievable. Hence his assessment of a fence to secure the border — often dismissed as an impracticable solution — as “ridiculous”? But what of his support for the Texas version of DREAM and his hints at the advisability of binational health insurance?

Obviously, Perry will have to answer questions about his stances on immigration and any other issue on which Romney can zing him — because Romney won’t let up anytime soon. One poll shows Perry ahead of Romney even in Nevada — the one state that is supposed to be an absolute given for Romney.

Update (AP): Hmmmm.

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