What happened
Leading Republican presidential candidates focused weekend speeches on illegal immigration, as polls indicated that GOP voters in early-voting New Hampshire and Iowa called it the second most important issue of the campaign after Iraq. (AP via Google)

What the commentators said
All the GOP front-runners—Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee—are “convinced that tough talk on immigration, however irrational, is necessary to win the nomination,” said Jason L. Riley in The Wall Street Journal. But offering more of the same “bad policies” that created this mess will only “foster resentment” among the fast-growing Hispanic voting bloc. A better option is putting forward “proposals that will bring immigration laws in line with the labor demands of our expanding economy.”

The nastiness won’t end after the voting in Iowa and New Hampshire, said Scott Shepard in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Romney has already sent mailings to South Carolina voters, blasting the others’ immigration records. And the issue will surely be a source of tension in the state, because polls say immigration ranks second behind Iraq there, too.

There are “no easy answers” to the question of controlling the flow of immigrants into the U.S., said Amy Chua in The Washington Post (free registration). “Immigrants who turn their backs on American values don't deserve to be here. But those of us who turn our backs on immigrants” altogether “misunderstand the secret of America's success and what it means to be American.”