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Gov. Perry: Americans Won't Trust Washington On Immigration Until Border Secured

Texas Gov. Rick Perry discusses immigration reform with the Wall Street Journal.

WSJ: Of course, very much on the minds of people in Washington, immigration. And I want to ask you, legalization, what's your position on that?

PERRY: Well, it's an interesting conversation they're having in Washington D.C. What they have to focus on, the American people don't trust Washington to secure the border, and I think that's the real issue. I'm not sure they can pass a piece of legislation that promises to secure the border and does all these other things from the standpoint of legalizing individuals who are here and modernizing the program that allows people to come into the United States, until they have shown Americans that they’re serious about securing the border. I'll tell you an interesting thing. As you shared in your opening remarks, I've been the governor of Texas for 12 and a half plus years and 1,200-mile border with Mexico, two-thirds of the entire border with Mexico is Texas.

WSJ: So what do you do? Do you build a fence across the whole border?

PERRY: No, but we have had real-life experiences of surging into areas, sectors of the border and shutting down the border from the standpoint of illegal activities. We know how to do this, with boots on the ground, with technology, with aviation assets. We just don't have the dollars nor the resources to do it for that entire 1,200-mile border. And, frankly, it's not Texas' responsibility. But interestingly, no one from Washington, not the administration, no one from Congress has ever really come and sat down with us and said, 'Governor, how would you secure the border?' We'll be happy to share with them ideas that, frankly, work because we've done it real-time. But until the border is secure, I don't think Americans are going to trust Washington to pass an immigration bill no matter how good it sounds or how thoughtful it is until they get the border secured.

WSJ: Does that mean that you do not support the Senate legislation?

PERRY: I don't support what's happening in Washington D.C.

WSJ: Because the Senate legislation does have very significant -- they say even before you can even start legalization, we have to stop 90 percent of the flow of illegals, a very tough benchmark to cross.

PERRY: I understand that, but what we’re hearing through all the fog is ‘trust me,' and the American people do not trust Washington because they have seen them time after time say, 'Here’s what we’re going to do, here’s what we’re going to implement when it comes to the border of the United States,' and the border has never been secured. Secure the border first. I would suggest to you, you just come up with a piece of legislation that secures that border first, let Americans see that you’re serious about putting the security apparatuses and the type of, you know, strategic fencing, the boots on the ground, the aviation assets, and then Americans will trust Washington that they’re going to do what they say they’re going to do.

WSJ: In the meantime, as that would be a difficult process to implement, what do you do with the 11 million or so folks that are here illegally but have jobs?

PERRY: Well, the same thing you've been doing with them for the last 40 years.

WSJ: But is this a sustainable system that we have?

PERRY: No, it's not a sustainable system, but, listen, throwing these ideas at the wall until you secure the border I will suggest to you is a non-starter.

WSJ: How come?

PERRY: Because Americans don't trust Washington to secure the border. Again, until you get that border secure, Americans, by and large, are going to look at this and go, 'You know what? You've never done it before, so why should I trust you now?'

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