Romney rejects 'anti-immigrant' label by Gingrich

January 26, 2012 - 8:55 PM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Mitt Romney is citing his family's arrival in the United States in rebutting a claim by rival Republican Newt Gingrich that he's "anti-immigrant."

The former Massachusetts governor forcefully rejected the label during Thursday night's debate, noting that his father was born in Mexico and his father-in-law in Wales. Romney says he wants to enforce laws so people who come to the U.S. illegally don't get to stay. He accuses the former House speaker of "over-the-top rhetoric."

Gingrich has been accusing Romney of sounding inhumane for suggesting that people in the country illegally will "self-deport."

The Republican candidates want to appear tough on illegal immigration but not uncompassionate when it comes to long-standing families with deep ties to the United States.