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Romney, Gingrich Begin Debate Over Immigration Policy

Agnus Dei Farrant |
January 26, 2012 | 5:33 p.m. PST

Senior News Editor

Screenshot of the CNN debate. Gingrich (left), Romney (right).
Screenshot of the CNN debate. Gingrich (left), Romney (right).
The Republican presidential candidates gathered Thursday night for their final debate before Florida’s primary.

The debate among Congressman Ron Paul, former Gov. Mitt Romney, former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum was held at the University of North Florida. Wolf Blitzer acted as moderator.

Santorum agreed with Romney that illegal immigrants should not be allowed to stay in the U.S.

“We have to have a country that not only do you respect the country when you come here, but you respect the country when you stay here,” Santorum said.

Santorum said that America needs immigration but “we need to enforce the law.”

Romney pitched his proposition that those who come into the country legally would be given identification cards. If employers hired someone without a card, they would be severely sanctioned.

Romney said he wants to see the U.S. “make legal immigration work and stop illegal immigration.”

“The way we’re handling the borders is actually hurting our economy,” Paul said. “We don’t have a well-managed border. We need more resources.”

Gingrich was questioned if he stood behind his statement that Romney was the most anti-immigration candidate.

Romney called Gingrich’s claim that he was anti-immigration “repulsive.” And said Gingrich should apologize for ” labeling people with highly-charged epithets.”
Gingrich asked Romney to “self-describe.”

Romney said he didn’t believe in rounding up people who came to the country legally, but would implement the identification card plan.

The two candidates bounced back and forth with their immigration beliefs and eventually agreed that English should be the national language. But they clashed again, each saying the other had stock ownership in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


Reach senior news editor Agnus Dei Farrant here.

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