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Posted Nov 29, 2011, 9:36 am
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Gov. Rick Perry, hoping to win back voters who think he's weak on illegal immigration, is promising to detain and deport every illegal border crosser if elected president.
Perry made the remarks right after picking up the endorsement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The Texas governor took aim at a "horrific policy" that he says allows non-violent immigrants to be released.
"My policy will be to detain and to deport every illegal alien that we apprehend. That is how we stop that issue,” Perry said. "And we’ll do it with expedited hearings, so that millions of illegal immigrants are not released into the general population until a hearing date’s set several weeks or months later as we see today."
Perry said he was against any type of "amnesty" for illegal immigrants already here, but he held out the possibility that Congress would enact reforms that offered some type of legal status to them.
“We have to identify everybody that’s here, and there’s going to be an appropriate discussion in Congress on how to deal with an individual who has been here maybe for some long period of time," Perry said.
"Amnesty is not on the table period. ... The idea that we’re going to tell people that somehow or another that that’s all forgiven is not going to happen. How we deal with them is a conversation. I don’t know if I know all the answers. I want to talk to the American people,” he said.
Perry found himself on the defensive when retired nurse Alice Bury of Amherst, N.H., asked him about his support for providing in-state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants who do well in high school. Perry told Bury he would not seek to impose that policy on other states.
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And he apologized profusely — again — for suggesting previously that opponents of the policy had no heart.
"I said in a debate something that was very inappropriate and I said people were heartless and that was an absolutely inappropriate thing to say," Perry said. "I understand your concern about the issue of illegal immigration and that was absolutely an incorrect thing for me to say."
Bury said after the event that Perry's support for the policy disappointed her and that she was leaning toward former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Arpaio heaped praise on Perry during their joint appearance at Joey's Diner in Amherst.
"One reason I like him (is) because he’s been fighting this battle as the governor. He doesn’t just talk about it," Arpaio said. "He does something about it."
Arpaio was asked if he agreed with Perry's position on in-state tuition. Arpaio said Perry had adequately explained his views, but the sheriff signaled he had a different one.
"My philosophy is that if you are in this country illegally you should be deported," Arpaio said. "I've been keeping that promise and taking a lot of heat for it but I'm not changing. I'm going back to phoenix tomorrow to lock up some more illegal aliens."
He said it made no difference how long immigrants have resided in the United States: "If you're here illegally then you're here illegally," he said.
TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.