AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry says America should extend work visas to allow illegal immigrants to move freely between the United States and their home countries — but opposes a path to citizenship.
The Republican presidential candidate told CNN's John King on Thursday that expecting authorities to arrest and deport millions of illegal immigrants isn't realistic. He added, however, that other Republicans, including former President George W. Bush, went too far by proposing a path to citizenship.
He didn't elaborate on what a work visa program might look like and said it can only happen if the federal government first secures America's southern border.
Perry also repeated his opposition to a fence running the length of that border, saying it wouldn't work and would take 10 to 15 years to build.
Shifting to international issues, Perry said that, as president, he would support an Israeli air strike on Iran if there is proof Tehran is moving closer to having a nuclear weapon.
"Obviously, we are going to support Israel. And I've said that we will support Israel in every way that we can, whether it's diplomatic, whether it's economic sanctions, whether it's overt or covert operations, up to and including military action," the Texas governor said.
"We cannot afford to allow that madman in Iran to get his hands on a nuclear weapon period," Perry added.
A U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency report due next week is expected to unveil new details about the military side of Iran's nuclear program, while stopping short of explicitly saying Tehran is trying to build such weapons. Iran insists its program is for generating electricity.