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Live Blog During Tonight's GOP Debate (and watching for our TV Ad!)

 

The GOP Debate gets underway tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. I'll be providng updates of any immigration-related questions that may be posed to the Presidential Hopefuls. In the past two debates, the Hopefuls have been asked basically the same questions they were asked in the primary's first debate held in Ames, Iowa. So, we're hoping for some new questions tonight, specifically questions that deal with mandatory E-Verify and legal immigration numbers.

For the last several months, we've been following what the Presidential Hopefuls have been saying about immigration. You can find their statements and ratings on 12 different immigration categories by viewing our 2012 Presidential Hopefuls comparison grid...

https://www.numbersusa.com/content/action/2012-presidential-hopefuls-immigration-stances.html

We'll also be watching tonight for our TV ad that calls for reducing the number of work permits issued by the federal government each month while 22 million Americans can't find a full-time job. Watch our ad here...

http://www.numbersusa.org

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9:05 Debate is underway with the topic on jobs. Candidates are missing another opportunity to discuss how the U.S. could ease job competition for unemployed Americans by reducing the number of work permits issued each month to foreign workers.

9:09 Our LEAP Coordinator, Andrew Good, points out that the map they used looks a lot like the maps we've developed for a number of different topics that can be found at http://www.numbersusa.org

9:22 Our Ad airs during Live Debate. Immigration debate should be about the Numbers! 

Watch the commercial at: http://www.numberusa.org

9:33 Candidates were asked which federal programs they would eliminate. How about the Visa Lottery that issues more than 50,000 green cards each year to new immigrants without consideration of the individual's job skills or America's economic needs? Rep. Bob Goodlatte introduced H.R. 704 that would end the Lottery and Sen. Hatch has a bill in the Senate S.332.

9:44 First immigration question to Bachmann. She was asked if she believed if it's okay for states to enforce immigration laws even though the Constitution grants the power over naturalization to Congress.

Bachmann said that "the Federal Government has failed the American people and the states. Pres. Obama has sued the state of Arizona for trying to protect the people of its own state. As president, I would do the job of the President of the United States by protecting our sovereignty. I would build a fence on every mile of the border. I would also enforce every law on the books.

Bachamann also took a shot at Gov. Perry's record on in-state tuition by saying, "I would also not support tuition for illegal aliens."

9:46 Newt Gingrich was asked if he supported national E-Verify. Fox moderator Chris Wallace made reference to Chairman Lamar Smith's bill H.R.2885 that passed through the Judiciary Commitee on Wednesday and played a YouTube question from FAIR.

Gingrich stuck to his guns by saying, "we'd be far better off to outsource E-Verify to Mastercard, Visa, Amex." He said those orgainzations don't have the massive fraud that's in the federal government. He added that he "would ask employers what would be their objection to helping the U.S. enforce immigration laws."

Gingrich also said that he "strongly supports securing the borders and enforcing the laws. And I support making the visa system easier."

9:48 Gov. Romney was then asked about his very vocal opposition to Gov. Perry signing the Texas Dream Act. He said "I don't see how it is that an illegal alien gets a discount to the University of Texas. If you're a U.S. citizen you have to pay $100,000 more for a four-year education. That kind of magnet draws people into this country to get that $100,000 break."

Gov. Romney then reinforced his position on enforcement, including mentioning E-Verify by name for the first time in the debates. "We have to have a fence, border patrol agents, a system like E-Verify, crackdown on employers, and turn off the magnet that draws illegal immigration."

9:50 Gov. Perry was asked if he's weak on enforcement because of prior statements and actions. He said "There is no one on this stage that has spent more time on the border. Texas has a 1,200 mile border. We have Texas Ranger re-con teams down there now. I joined with Arizona in the government's lawsuit to help them defend themselves. But if you say we shouldn't educate children brought here by no fault of their own, then you have no heart. If you don't educate them, they will become a drag on our state. This is a state issue, and Texans supported it."

9:52 Rick Santorum was asked if he believed if Perry's position on immigration was weak, and he gave a great response to Perry's position on in-state tuition. 

"This is not a question of whether illegal aliens can go to college. Most folks who don't live in Texas have to pay the full load. Why should they be given preferential treatment because they're illegally in this country? I would say he's soft on immigration."

9:54 Perry had a chance to respond to Santorum and said, "You put the boots on the ground. You put the aviation assets on the ground. We will stop illegal immigration, we will stop the drug cartels and we will secure our borders."

9:55 Ron Paul was asked about his answer to a border fence question during the MSNBC debate. He said that he opposes a border fence because it keeps "people in the country." Paul stood by his statement and took a shot at E-Verify. 

"When you have these databanks, they say it's for illegal aliens, but everyone's in the databanks. That's national ID. You need to attack their benefits. No free education, no benefits, no citizenship, and no birthright citizenship."

POST-DEBATE  Pollster Frank Luntz spent 10 minutes with a focus group in Tampa discussing the immigration segment. The focus group was turned off by Gov. Perry's position on in-state tuition.

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Unfortunately, there were no question posed to the candidates dealing with legal immigration. Few politicians make the connection between high levels of legal immigration and our unemployment problem, but the math is pretty simple. Last month, the federal government issued 125,000 green cards to new immigrants, but our economy created no new jobs. How can the U.S. ever reduce unemployment when our population increases each month at a higher rate than we create jobs?

Legal immigration aside, the storyline of tonight's debate was Gov. Perry's insistence to stand behind his decision to sign the Texas Dream Act, granting in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens. Perry's response continues to be that these individuals will become a drag on society, but what he fails to understand is that with or without an education, these young people can't legally work in the United States. Plus, as Rick Santorum pointed out, no one is denying illegal aliens an education. Illegal aliens can still go to the University of Texas, but they should have to pay the same tuition rate that Arizona residents who attend the University of Texas pay.

Gov. Romney continues to maintain his strong position on illegal immigration, but he added something extra for this debate. This was the first time that he mentioned E-Verify. He didn't say that he supported a national mandate for it, but he did say we need a system like E-Verify, so he's getting closer.

Michele Bachmann has the best grade on our comparison grid, and she didn't do anything to jeopardize that rating tonight. She maintained her strong position on illegal immigration and challenged Perry on his in-state tuition position.

With the E-Verify bill passing through the House Judiciary Committe yesterday, I think it would have been appropriate for all candidates on the stage to be asked for their position on the bill. Posing the question only to Gingrich was another missed opportunity. But Romney did lean to supporting national E-Verify, and Ron Paul compared the system to a national ID card.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA

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