The Washington Times - November 23, 2011, 12:25PM

The Democratic National Committee is out with a new Web video attacking GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney for his views on illegal immigration, saying that the approach the former Massachusetts governor laid out in the debate Tuesday proves that he has “assumed the mantle as the most extreme, right-wing presidential candidate on the issue of immigration ever.”

“Romney’s round-them-up-and-throw-them-out anti-immigrant views used to the be the fare of far-right-wing gadfly candidates like Tom Tancredo, but no more,” the DNC said in a news release, referring to the former Colorado House member who has been a leading critic of illegal immigration. “Romney once again went to the far right of every other Republican presidential candidate, refusing to agree with others on the stage that tearing apart families is wrong or that we shouldn’t implement an extreme and inhumane immigration policy.”

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In the Web video, the DNC asks: “On immigration, who is being honest about the challenges we face?” and then contrasts Mr. Romney opposition to “amnesty” with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s argument that the nation must consider some sort of way to legalize illegal immigrants with deep roots in the United States.

“We have had in the past programs that said people who come here illegally are going to get to stay here illegally for the rest of their life,” Mr. Romney said in the debate. “That’s only going to encourage more people to come here illegally.”

Mr. Gingrich, meanwhile, who supported the immigration plan signed by President Ronald Reagan that some conservatives blame for fueling the current problem, challenged Republicans to take a more nuanced approach to the issue.

“I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who have been here a quarter-century, who have children and grandchildren, who are members of the community, who may have done something 25 years ago, separate them from their families and expel them,” he said.

Illegal immigration has already shown to be a thorny issue in the GOP presidential race.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was chastised shortly after entering the race by several of his GOP rivals and anti-illegal immigration groups for refusing to support a border fence as a key element in stopping the flow of illegals across the U.S. southern border. Mr. Perry’s candidacy, though, really started to tumble in September after he described critics of Texas’ program offering lower in-state tuition rates to some children of illegal immigrants as “heartless.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Gingrich took a softer approach. “The party that says it is the party of the family is not going to adopt an immigration policy that destroys families that have been here a quarter-century,” he said. “I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.”

The DNC statement said Mr. Romney’s statement were “just another dishonest attempt” to “play politics on an issue to further his political ambitions rather than leveling with the American people about the real challenges we face in addressing this issue.”