Romney Promises to Punish States For Immigration Policies


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Saturday promised to cut federal funding for cities and states that he considers tolerant of illegal immigration, though he said he was unsure how deep the cuts would be.

The former Massachusetts governor repeated his plans to deny funding to sanctuary cities, states that issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and states that allow the children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition discounts at universities.

"They are practices that, if you will, extend this sanctuary state of mind we have," Romney told more than 200 people gathered at a public library. "I like immigration - legal immigration."

Romney also outlined a plan to create an employment verification card that, he said, would make it easier for companies to determine a prospective employee's citizenship status.

The proposals won loud applause in this growing city just outside Las Vegas, where immigration fuels the local service economy. Nevada Republicans are scheduled to hold one of the earliest nomination contests on Jan. 19.

Romney told reporters he was unsure how much federal funding he
would cut.

"I can't give you the specifics," he said. The campaign later described the in-state tuition plan as a proposal to "trim back" education funds.

Romney also clarified his position on that portion of the proposal.

In Nevada and other early states where immigration is a hot topic among potential caucus goers, Romney has repeatedly described his proposal as a concerns about "kids of illegal immigrants."

But he said Saturday he did not think students who are in the U.S. legally should be denied discounted tuition, even if their parents are illegal.

"People that are here illegally should not be able to get a tuition break that allows illegals to have tuition that's lower than the children of our citizens," he said.

Romney has used the issue to criticize opponent Mike Huckabee, who as governor of Arkansas supported a failed attempt to extend in-state tuition and scholarships to the children of illegal immigrants.

Huckabee has said he does not believe students should be punished for crimes committed by their parents.

It was unclear whether Romney's proposed funding cuts would affect Nevada.

The Nevada System of Higher Education does not specifically consider a student's or their parents' citizenship when determining residency for tuition purposes, according to Nevada law.

The state's major cities have not declared themselves "sanctuary cities" where immigration laws are not enforced. Proof of U.S. citizenship, through a social security number, is required for a Nevada driver's license.

Romney later was scheduled to campaign in Reno.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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