Romney put illegal immigrants to work, Perry says

Mitt Romney and Rick Perry went at it over immigration.
Mitt Romney and Rick Perry went at it over immigration.

In Tuesday's wide-ranging CNN Republican presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry's aggressive sallies included a claim about Mitt Romney and the employment of undocumented workers that PolitiFact judged years ago.

Perry, who again drew fire from opponents for signing into law a 2001 proposal permitting some Texas illegal immigrants to attend colleges and universities on in-state tuition, said illegal immigrants enter the country for jobs.

Next, he accused the former Massachusetts governor of hiring "illegals in your home, and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you're strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy."

Romney objected, saying he never hired illegal immigrants.

In 2007, PolitiFact noted that the previous year, The Boston Globe sent reporters to Guatemala after getting a tip that Romney had hired a landscaping company notorious for using illegal immigrants.

Three former landscapers claimed to have been in the United States illegally when they worked on Romney's lawn.

One said he worked for Romney for eight years, occasionally getting a "buenos dias" from Romney himself. Others said Romney had never inquired about their status.

A Romney spokesman issued a statement to the newspaper saying that the governor knew nothing about the immigration status of the workers and that his dealings were with the company's owner, a legal immigrant from Colombia.

Romney said Tuesday: "We hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go."

Cain claim

Earlier in the debate, Herman Cain, speaking after an attack on his tax reform plan, said that the 9-9-9 proposal "does not raise taxes on those that are making the least."

However, a PolitiFact analysis of the plan - relying on three different tax accountants - found a similar Cain statement Mostly False. Cain's assumption holds for single wage earners, but married couples and people with children making $50,000 a year would probably pay more than under the current system.

Romney elicited former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich's concession that he once supported a mandate that individuals obtain health insurance, later a part of the Democratic-steered health care overhaul of 2010.

Republicans proposed an individual mandate in 1993. Gingrich noted that the proposal was intended to counter a plan developed under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, then the first lady.

Then-Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., introduced a plan that created a universal tax deduction for health insurance and gave the poor vouchers to buy policies. It also required everyone to buy insurance.