GOP Candidates Spar Over Immigration, Troop Levels, Foreign Aid 

Republican presidential candidates focused on foreign policy during the 11th debate Tuesday night.

Deep differences between the Republican presidential candidates over national security issues were revealed Tuesday night during the CNN debate in Washington, D.C.

The eight candidates who took the stage sparred over the Patriot Act, defense cuts and immigration policy, and it became clear that there are deep divisions between the candidates on how to address critical national security issues, according to the Washington Post.

Newt Gingrich, who rose to the top of the polls last week, took on the treacherous issue of immigration policy. The New York Times reported Gingrich said he would allow some illegal immigrants—those who raised a family here, have been here for decades and paid taxes—to stay in the United States:

"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."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry made similar comments during a debate a few weeks ago that were criticized by conservative voters. At Tuesday's debate, he promised to shut down the border within 12 months of taking office, if elected, according to Fox News.

Former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney disagreed with Gingrich, saying that "amnesty is a magnet" for more people coming into the U.S. illegally, CNN reported.

Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann disagreed on providing U.S. aid to Pakistan, with Perry calling it "nonsensical" and Bachmann chiding him as being "highly naive" of the very real security threat there, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Troop levels in Afghanistan was also a point of contention. The Wall Street Journal reported that Romney and former Utah Gov. John Huntsman got into a heated exchange about the war in Afghanistan, with Romney saying he would follow the advice of military commanders to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. Huntsman, however, said the U.S. military presence there was too large:

"We don't need 100,000 troops on the ground. We need a presence on the ground more akin to 10 or 15,000."

Finally, 10 years after Sept. 11, the candidates debated the relevance of the Patriot Act, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas called the law "unpatriotic" while Gingrich defended the law, saying he would not change anything because the threat of terrorism will always be present.

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