Romney: ‘I’m Running For Office for Pete’s Sake, I Can’t Have Illegals’

By Eric Scheiner | October 19, 2011 | 12:18pm EDT

( During last night’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nev., former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney admitted that a lawn company he had used hired illegal immigrants and that when he found out he told the company it could not have illegal aliens working on his property because he was running for office.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry brought the issue up during the debate. “You stood here in front of the American people and did not tell the truth that you had illegals working on your property," Perry said, "and the newspaper came to you and brought it to your attention, and you still, a year later, had those individuals working for you.

"The idea that you can sit here and talk about any of us having an immigration issue is beyond me," said Perry. "I've got a strong policy, I've always been against amnesty. You, on the other hand, were for amnesty." 

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Romney responded: "Okay. You wrote an op-ed in the newspaper saying you were open to amnesty. That's number one. Number two, we hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there. And when that was pointed out to us we let them go. And we went to them and said--"

“A year later?” Perry interrupted.

“You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking," said Romney. "And I'd suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you have got to let both people speak. So first, let me speak.

“So we went to the company," Romney continued, "and we said: Look, you can't have any illegals working on our property. I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, I can't have illegals. It turns out that once again they hired someone who had falsified their documents, had documents, and therefore we fired them.”

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