HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) – Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said he would seal the U.S.-Mexico border by cutting all benefits that he says attracts illegal immigration.
Carson made the comments to reporters Sunday after he and his wife spent the day campaigning in southern Nevada. He spoke at a friendly Evangelical church service in Las Vegas and then at an afternoon rally in nearby Henderson.
The retired neurosurgeon, who had appeared in Arizona on Saturday, pointed to the efforts in state in Yuma County in proposing how he would try to secure the border. He again said it could be done easily in a year and suggested prosecuting all first-time offenders, installing a double fence and using technology-driven surveillance to cut down on the percentage of illegal crossings.
"You can pretty much get it to 100 percent," he said of his proposal.
Carson also said that eliminating "any kind of benefit that a person who is illegal could get" would be key to cutting the perception of incentives. He didn't name any specific benefits, but said that without them, "you won't have anybody even trying to do this."
Those in the U.S. without a problematic record would be given a six month period to register and pay a tax penalty. They would have to pay taxes going forward by taking jobs as guest workers, but it wouldn't amount to citizenship or voting rights.
He also rejected the idea of accepting Syrian refugees into the U.S. on the grounds that it would threaten national security. Carson instead said he would support offering resources and diplomacy to help them stay settled or resettle in their own country.
"I do not believe that we should be bringing them here. And the reason I don't think we should bring them here is because it would be too easy to embed with them, within them, those who were members of the jihadists groups who would be interested in wreaking havoc in this country. There's no reason we should be facilitating such a thing," he said.
Carson is returning to Nevada next week as keynote speaker at the Gift of Life Banquet, a fundraiser for the First Choice Pregnancy Services center in Las Vegas. He is scheduled for the event starting with a meet and greet at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino at 6 p.m. on Nov. 23.