Excerpts From CNN Republican Debate In New Hampshire, June 13, 2011
QUESTION: As a naturalized American citizen who came here legally, I would like to know how you, as America—as president, plan to prevent illegal immigrants from using our health care, educational, or welfare systems?
KING: Senator Santorum, why don`t you lead off on that one?
SANTORUM: Well, I`m the son of a legal immigrant in this country and—and believe in legal immigration. That is a great wellspring of—of strength for our country.
But we cannot continue to provide—the federal government should not require states to provide government services. And I have consistently voted against that and believe that we are, unfortunately—my grandfather came to this country—I announced in Somerset County. He didn`t come here because he was guaranteed a government benefit. He came here because he wanted freedom.
And I think most people who come to this country—certainly all people who come here legally—want it because they wanted the opportunities of this country. And that`s what we should be offering. We should not be offering to people—particularly those who broke the law to come here or overstayed their visa—we should not be offering government benefits.
KING: And so, Dr. Paul, to you on this one, the question comes up, though, once they`re in the country illegally, you have—compassion sometimes bumps up against enforcing the law and state budget crises. A 5-year-old child of an illegal immigrant walks into an emergency room. Does the child get care?
PAUL: Well, first off, we shouldn`t have the mandates. We bankrupted the hospitals and the schools in Texas and other states. We shouldn`t give them easy citizenship.
We should think about protecting our borders, rather than the borders between Iraq and Afghanistan. That doesn`t make any sense to me.
But on—on coming in, you know, there was a time when government wasn`t—we didn`t depend on government for everything. There was a time when the Catholic Church actually looked after...
KING: But should they get care? Should they get care? Should taxpayers have to pay for that care?
PAUL: No, they should not be forced to, but we wouldn`t—we shouldn`t be penalizing the Catholic Church, because they`re trying to fulfill a role. And some of the anti-immigrants want to come down hard on the Catholic Church, and that is wrong.
If we believed in our free society—as a matter of fact, this whole immigration problem is related to the economy. People aren`t coming over as much now because it`s weak. When we had a healthy economy, some of our people didn`t work (ph) and people flowed over here getting jobs. So there is an economic issue here, as well.
But, no, if you have an understanding and—and you want to believe in freedom, freedom has solved these kind of problems before. You don`t have to say, oh, you`re not going to have care or there won`t be any care and everybody is going to starve to death and—and die on the streets without medical care. That`s the implication of the question. That`s just not true, and you shouldn`t accept it.
KING: Mr. Cain, another issue that`s come up in recent years...
... as this debate has bubbled up is the whole question of birthright citizenship. If there are two illegal immigrants, two adults who came into this country illegally, and they have a child, should that child be considered a citizen of the United States?
CAIN: I don`t believe so. But let`s—let`s look at solving the real problem, OK? Immigration is full of problems, not one. This is why we keep kicking the can down the road. Secure the borders. Get serious about securing our borders.
Number two, enforce the laws that are already there.
Number three, promote the path to citizenship, like this lady did, by getting—cleaning up the bureaucracy.
And here`s how we deal with the illegals that are already here. Empower the states to do what the federal government hasn`t done, won`t do, and can`t do. Then we won`t be getting into the problem that was raised.
We are a compassionate nation. Of course they`re going to get care. But let`s fix the problem.
KING: Well, to empower the states, Mr. Cain says, Governor Pawlenty, do you support, then—Arizona has its version, parts of it—parts of it, employee enforcement law, have been upheld. The big SB 1070 making its way to the Supreme Court. Alabama just has a new bill. Would you want to be president of the United States in which each state can decide what it does? Or would you make the point, look, this is a federal purview, period?
PAWLENTY: I`m a strong supporter of state rights, but if the federal government won`t do its job—in this case, protecting and securing our border—then let the states do it. And they will. And...
... when President Bush asked governors to volunteer their National Guard to go to the border to help reinforce, through Operation Jump Start, our border, I was one of the few governors who did it. I sent Minnesota National Guard there to reinforce the border, and it works. And that`s what we need to do.
And, by the way, this issue of birthright citizenship again brings up the importance of appointing conservative justices. That result is because a U.S. Supreme Court determined that that right exists, notwithstanding language in the Constitution. I`m the only one up here—I believe I`m the only one up here—who`s appointed solidly, reliably conservative appointees to the—to the court.
KING: I want to do one more on this issue. President Bush and Senator McCain spent a lot of time on this, Mr. Speaker. I want your view. There are an estimated maybe 20 million illegal immigrants in this country. People have different numbers. If you were going to round them all up—Congressman Tom Tancredo on this stage four years ago would have said round them up and kick them up, they broke the law, they shouldn`t be here. I don`t know where the money would come from in this environment.
So I want you sense. Do you—is that what the states should be doing, the federal government should be spending money and resources on? Or—or like President Bush and like Senator McCain, at least in the McCain-Kennedy days, should we have some path to status for those who are willing to step up and admit where they are and come out of the shadows?
GINGRICH: One of the reasons this country is in so much trouble is that we are determined among our political elites to draw up catastrophic alternatives. You either have to ship 20 [million] people out of America or legalize all of them.
That`s nonsense. There`s not—we`re never going to pass a comprehensive bill. Obama proved that in the last two years. He couldn`t get a comprehensive bill through with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and he didn`t even try, because he knew he couldn`t do it.
You break this down. Herman Cain`s essentially right, you break it down. First of all, you control the border. We can ask the National Guard to go to Iraq. We ask the National Guard to go to Kuwait. We ask the National Guard to go to Afghanistan. Somehow we would have done more for American security if we had had the National Guard on the border.
But if you don`t want to use the National Guard, I`m...
Just one last example. If you don`t want to use the National Guard, take—take half of the current Department of Homeland Security bureaucracy in Washington, transplant it to Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. You`ll have more than enough people to control the border.
KING: All right. Let`s...
GINGRICH: No, but let me say this, John. No serious citizen who`s concerned about solving this problem should get trapped into a yes/no answer in which you`re either for totally selling out protecting America or you`re for totally kicking out 20 million people in a heartless way. There are—there are humane, practical steps to solve this problem, if we can get the politicians and the news media to just deal with it honestly.
Peter Brimelow (email him) is editor of VDARE.COM and author of the much-denounced Alien Nation: Common Sense About America`s Immigration Disaster, (Random House - 1995) and The Worm in the Apple (HarperCollins - 2003)