NPR logo Rick Perry Says He Erred In Calling Illegal Immigration Foes Heartless

Rick Perry

Rick Perry Says He Erred In Calling Illegal Immigration Foes Heartless

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry said during a recent debate of Republican presidential candidates, "I don't think you have a heart" of those who disagreed who disagreed with his support of in-state tuition for young illegal immigrants, he lost points with many conservatives.

Perry's comments on education for young illegal immigrants start at about the 5:45 mark.


So on Wednesday in an interview with the conservative site, Perry tried making amends.

"I probably chose a poor word to explain that. For people who don't want their state to be giving tuition to illegal aliens, illegal immigrants in this country, that's their call and I respect that.

"I was probably overpassionate in using that word and that was probably inappropriate."

Mitt Romney has hammered Perry for supporting the Texas law that allows young illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at the state's public universities so long as the students spent at least three years in the state's K-12 schools.

Romney has said the tuition break amounts to a $100,000 subsidy for each undocumented student attending Texas schools.

In his interview, Perry repeated his explanation that providing in-state tuition to such students was uncontroversial in Texas.

"In Texas in 2001 we had, of 181 members of the legislature only four voted against this piece of legislation, because it wasn't about immigration it was about education."