Texas Gov. Rick Perry says the U.S.-Mexico border must first be secured, and then under no circumstances would he support any type of amnesty for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants who now live in the United States. The presidential contender also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Tuesday that before he can lay out a specific plan for solving the illegal immigration problem, a conversation must be held with the American people.
“Well, one of the things we’re not going to do is support amnesty. There’s not anybody that’s going to be — I don’t care whether you've been here 25 days or 25 years — there’s not going to be amnesty involved in the program,” Perry said. “Americans have made it very clear that they’re not going to support amnesty. There are a host of ways to address this issue.
“But I’m not going to sit here and go through and talk about all the different options because there may be some ideas that haven’t been talked about yet. So I’m going to stick with the folks like [Maricopa County, Ariz.] Sheriff [Joe] Arpaio — who was with me today and who’s endorsing my candidacy — and work on securing the border because until you get the border secure, all of these issues about immigration reform are frankly just intellectual engagement.”
Van Susteren asked Perry what the next step would be once the border was secured.
“We ought to have that conversation with the part-time Congress and with the people of this country of how do we want to deal with this. Are there people that are going say: You know what? We’re going to allow you to pay a fine,” Perry said. “Are there people that are going to say: ‘Listen, we’re going to send you back to your country of origin, and you apply for a new type of immigration program that we’re putting into place to speed up the ability for people who have certain skills to come in and be engaged.’
“I think I’ve laid out a number of concepts and ideas — I don’t know which of those the American people want — and that’s the reason that we need to have this long and lengthy conversation,” he said. “Not necessarily long, frankly, but a conversation and a discussion, a debate about how do we deal with these 11 million people.
“I don’t know that if I have all the right answers — and one thing I have learned, that on this very volatile issue of immigration and immigration reform, we need to talk to the American people — we need to get their input,” Perry continued. “We need to listen to them. . . . So rather than put myself in a box and say: ‘Here is exactly what I would do,’ I’m going to sit and have conversations with the American people. We’ve got plenty of time to do that because we’re not going to secure the border with this administration — It’s going to take a new president.”
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