A joint investigation withInvestigative Reporting Workshop

Republican Candidates Take on Immigration

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While our film Lost in Detention was airing last night, exploring the Obama administration’s controversial immigration policies, another debate was taking place among Republican presidential candidates.

The above clip shows a heated exchange between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, in which Perry alleges that Romney knowingly hired “illegals” to work for him, resulting in a prolonged session of the candidates talking over one another.

Romney fired back at Perry, telling him that, as Massachusetts governor, he “empowered” state police to enforce immigration laws in the form of an executive order he signed towards the end of his governorship (current Gov. Deval Patrick later reversed it). He also criticized Perry for not building a border fence between Texas and Mexico, and for giving tuition credits to illegal immigrants.

Perry’s accusation stems from Boston Globe investigations in 2006 and 2007 that found a company Romney hired to do landscaping at his home hired illegal immigrants. Romney told Perry that, when he found out about the company’s repeated hiring practices in 2007, he and and others “went to the company 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.”

Here’s more info on Republican candidates’ positions on immigration in their own words.

Photo: Republican presidential candidates former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry speak during a Republican presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, in Las Vegas. (AP/Chris Carlson)

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