Discuss as:

Perry defends in-state tuition for illegal immigrants

HAMPTON, NH -- At a town hall meeting earlier this morning, Texas Gov. Rick Perry offered an in-depth explanation why the Lone Star State -- under his watch -- has allowed illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at Texas universities and colleges.

The explanation was received well by the crowd here.

"We have, for decades, had a federal government that has absolutely failed in its constitutional duty to defend our border," Perry said.

"I'm a governor. I don't have the pleasure of standing on the stage and criticizing. I have to deal with these issues," he later added.

Perry continued, "In 2001, we had this choice: Are we going to kick these children over to the curb and say you cannot have access to college? Because the fact of the matter is there's no way they could pay the out-of-state tuition. And are we going to have them on the government dole over here because they're not educated? Or are we going to have them in our institutions of higher learning, paying in state tuition, pursuing citizenship?"

"So in Texas, we made the decision that it was in our best interest as a state -- economically and otherwise -- to have those young people in our institutions of higher learning becoming educated to be part of our skilled workforce."

David Connors, the man who asked Perry the in-state tuition question, said he was satisfied with the governor's answer.

"Send these kids to jail? Or are you trying to make them productive members of society? And I guess from that point of reference, I agree with him."

Connors, who said he arrived at the town hall 100% against in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, was swayed by Perry's answer at the town hall.

"I came in here saying no, and I'm going out now saying maybe," he told NBC News.

As for his vote in the New Hampshire primary, Connors says he "could" support Perry, but is waiting to hear from all the candidates.