At Monday night's GOP presidential debate in Tampa, Texas Gov. Rick Perry had the Tea Party crowd on his side... until the conversation turned to immigration. Perry dismissed as unrealistic the idea of a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, criticized Arizona's strict anti-immigration law, and defended a 2001 law he signed — dubbed the Texas Dream Act — that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state universities if they've lived in Texas for three years. "It doesn’t make any difference what the sound of your last name is," he said, if you're trying to get an education. "Cue the boos," says Marc Caputo in The Miami Herald. Will Perry's relative moderation on immigration end his reign as frontrunner?

The immigration issue could plague Perry: Helping illegal immigrants pay for college may be "the American way," as Perry states, says Francis Wilkinson in Bloomberg. But it's "not the Republican way in 2011." Perry's "lonely stand on immigration" is a product of his 11 years as governor of a heavily Hispanic border state, but he's expressing views "shared by many liberal Democrats," which won't win him points nationally with the GOP base.
"Rick Perry and the limits of ideology"

Don't worry, GOP. Perry's no moderate: "Perry once seemed like a moderate amigo," but he's become increasingly antagonistic to Latinos as his term has progressed, says Raul Reyes in The Huffington Post. Perry has been "throwing Latinos under the bus to gain support from the Tea Party and far-right conservatives" with a range of initiatives — signing a harsh voter-ID law, for example, or pushing a failed crackdown on "sanctuary cities." Such moves may help him win the GOP primary, even if they turn off the growing Latino voting bloc.
"Rick Perry, a lousy amigo"

Moderate or not, his views are incoherent: There's no question that "Perry's relatively moderate record on immigration is a liability with the GOP base," says Adam Serwer in Mother Jones. But it's the incoherence of his stance, like Romney's on health care, that could could cost him the nomination. In standing up for his "Dream Act" but trashing "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, Perry is essentially saying, "let's deport all those kids," on whose educations I just spent taxpayer dollars.
"There's no such thing as a 'state-level DREAM Act'"