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GOP Field Calls Out Trump For Immigration Remarks

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Allegra Boverman for NHPR
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Fomer Gov. George Pataki (left) and Donald Trump

Donald Trump's recent comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants have cost him business deals ranging from the Miss USA Pageant to a clothing line at Macy's. Trump's stance is also drawing increasing criticism from his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination.

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  George Pataki, the former Republican governor of New York who's struggled to gain traction in polls or press coverage, has positioned himself as Trump's loudest critic over immigration in recent days. In a meeting with New Hampshire reporters Monday, Pataki challenged Trump to go "mano a mano" over immigration policy. 

This comes three days after Pataki announced an online petition "urging Americans to send a strong message that all men and women are created equal and dividing Americans on the basis of race or ethnicity is unacceptable."

The petition site contains no tally of how many people have signed, though it does take visitors to a donation page for Pataki's campaign.

Pataki is perhaps the loudest of Trump's critics among the GOP presidential field -- but by no means the only one. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush told reporters in Merrimack over the weekend that Trump’s comments were “extraordinarily ugly” and “way out of the mainstream of the Republican Party.” And former Texas governor Rick Perry said he was "offended" by Trump's comments.

But Pataki’s barrage of criticism seems designed to draw attention to his own campaign and distinguish himself as the candidate most willing to attack Trump.

“Many of my colleagues who are running for President are afraid to Stand Up to Trump,” Pataki wrote to supporters recently. "They are scared Trump will spend his billions on negative television ads, I’m not.  How will they stand up to ISIS or Putin if they are afraid to take on an American celebrity?”

So what is Pataki's proposal for immigration policy? Here's a summary, based on details provided by his campaign today:

  • Increase border security;
  • Provide a process to gain legal status for undocumented immigrants who have no criminal record, who have paid taxes and have lived in the country for a certain length of time. Applicants for legal status would also have to perform at least 200 hours of community service “as restitution for breaking the law initially;”
  • No mass deportation of undocumented immigrants now in the country.

As for Pataki’s invitation to go “mano a mano” -- the offer may prove tempting to Trump, whose resume includes “boxing promoter” for a span in the 1980s.