Complete coverage of Rick Perry's Presidential run

Perry Doesn't Back Down on Education for Illegal Immigrants

By Omar Villafranca
|  Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011  |  Updated 7:22 PM CDT
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Rick Perry's Greatest Hits (and Misses)

AP

Gov. Rick Perry is defending a Texas law that allows illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at state colleges.

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Gov. Rick Perry wasn't wearing his signature cowboy boots at last night's debate, so don't expect him to walk back some of his stances, especially on immigration.

The Tea Party Express crowd audibly booed Perry when candidates starting attacking him over a Texas law that allows illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at Texas colleges.

"Well, this issue is about education; it's not about immigration," Perry told reporters afterward. "These kids showed up in our state by no fault of their own -- some 2 or 3 years of age. And they've been in our schools, they've done the work, they've prepared themselves good, they want to be contributing members of society. So it would be, I think, the wrong message to say that somehow or another you can't go to our colleges or we're going to punish you because the sound of your last name or because your parents brought you here, so I think we have the right message."

Perry also tried to twist the issue into a state's rights issue.

"This is a state-by-state issue," he said. "You don't want to do it in Florida, you don't want to do it in Oklahoma, that's your call. But in the state of Texas, we want these young people to be contributing members of our society and contributing at the highest level. They're pursuing their citizenship and rightfully  so. So I think this is the right issue and when people really think about it, I think they'll understand what we did in Texas was the right thing for Texas."

Tracking Rick Perry:
For the latest on Rick Perry's run for the White House, click here to see our special Tracking Rick Perry section. View videos, photos, and stories on the Texas governor's presidential run.

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