Perry defends in-state tuition for undocumented

September 22, 2011 - 10:20 PM
Republican Debate

Republican presidential candidate's Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, left, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, center, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, greet each other prior to a debate Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry is defending his record on immigration during a Republican debate, saying people who don't support education benefits for the children of illegal immigrants are heartless.

Perry has faced criticism from his Republican rivals on immigration since entering the presidential campaign in August. He says Texas has spent millions to secure its border with Mexico, and he supported Arizona's tough immigration law.

Texas universities allow the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates. Perry pushed back hard against his rivals, holding tightly to his position that illegal immigrants should be educated.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum accused Perry of being soft on immigration, asking why illegal immigrants should be given preferential treatment. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney likened the policy to a $100,000 tuition discount.