OTR Interviews

Santorum on Border Security: Build a Fence and Enforce the Law

GOP presidential hopeful discusses how he would handle illegal immigration and border security

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 29, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And now to Senator Rick Santorum, who's down in the polls but he's certainly not out. Senator Santorum says once the voters learn more about the other candidates, they will defect to his camp. He says, "I may not be the guy that the girls are initially attracted to when they walk into the dance hall, but ultimately, once you get to know all the folks, I'm the one you want to take home to Mom."

Senator Santorum joins us. Good evening, Senator.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, how're you doing, Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm doing very well. OK, let me ask you the question I asked of Governor Perry. I understand -- or at least I suspect you want to secure the border. Am I right on that, you want to secure the border?

SANTORUM: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Once you secure the border (INAUDIBLE) you do it in a two-step process, which is what many Republicans want to do, we still have 11 million estimated illegal people here in the United States. Do you have a plan or a vision of what you would do with the illegal 11 million here? Do they stay? Do they have a path to citizenship, work papers, deported, what?

SANTORUM: Yes. What I would say is that first, you know, we build the fence. Number two, we enforce the law, and that is that we don't allow people who are in this country to work here illegally. And when we do find people here illegally, and we go through the process of deportation.

That does not mean, as some have suggested, you know, that I want to send bands of people out to try to find everybody who's here illegally, but we simply enforce the law that's in place. And if people want to stay in this country, then they have to go through the process of entering -- and I'm talking about people who came here illegally in the first place.

As we know, about half the people in this country, according to the statistics I've seen, about half the folks in this country who are here illegally did not enter the country illegally. They actually came here legally and are here on overstays. They were students who found work. And I think, you know, that is a different group of people than folks who came here illegally in the first place.

I think if you came here illegally in the first place, then you have to go back through a process of entering the country in a legal fashion. And that's what I would require.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, it used to be, I don't know if it's still the same, that if you're one of those who overstays it, you can't just sort of apply to stay here, you've got to go home and tag up, almost like a baseball player.

SANTORUM: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you've got to go back and then try to get back in. It's not that easy to get back into the United States once you've violated the law, whether you entered illegally or whether you've overstayed a visa. And then you've got the problem that maybe that person has children that are born here in the United States who are American citizens. So it's quite complex.

SANTORUM: Yes, it is. I would say a couple things. First off, I'm actually for a system that allows for people to come here, if they come here on a student visa or they come here on a visa that -- you know, where they're getting some sort of higher education or they're learning some great skills that are good and necessary for the country -- my feeling is, you know, if they graduate and do well, we should -- you know, we should have -- actually give folks the opportunity to have a green card and to stay here and work.

So you know, I have a little problem with, actually, folks -- you know, I want to encourage folks who can contribute to the economy of the country to stay here in the country. And so that's one of the things I would say.

But you're right, if people do come here and they do have to go back and they have to tag in -- and again, you know, if people who came here legally and are out of status have to go back now in order to come back, then why would we treat anybody who came here illegally in the first place any differently?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, to Iran, where the British embassy was under siege today. We don't know what's going to happen when the sun rises in Iran tomorrow morning in a couple hours. If you were president of the United States, what would you be doing or not doing about Iran tonight?

SANTORUM: Well, I actually laid out a four-point plan as to what I would be doing. It's based on work that I did when I was in the United States Senate. I was someone who called out this problem early on, way back in 2004, and authored a bill that we -- we -- had President Bush and President Obama followed through with, we'd be a very different situation in Iran, and that was to try to help out the insurgency in Iran, help out the pro-movement, help fund strike funds, for example, for public employees and other employees who are striking the government, but they can't do it for long because, of course, they need the money.

But if we could, as we did in Poland, you know, try to help out some of these labor unions and the like, we could do some things to try to undermine the regime and strengthen the resistance. And we haven't done any of that. So that's one thing I would do.

Number two, I would try to use all covert activity that's humanly possible. As you saw that there was a suspected explosion. We don't really know what it was -- at a missile facility. I would like to think that there -- if that was not a mistake on the part of the Iranians, that whether it was the Israelis or the United States, you know, we're doing things to disrupt their ability to develop missile -- the technology that's to deliver a nuclear weapon, as well as to disrupt the production of a nuclear weapon. So covert activity would be another thing that I would -- I'd be stepping up.

Third, sanctions. I agree with Governor Perry, who I think said at the last debate sanction the central bank, stopping the flow of oil. It won't stop it completely. China will still be able to buy the...

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know what?

SANTORUM: Yes?

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know what? And I got to cut off because you know we're going to that hard break and (INAUDIBLE) cut off we go to black...

SANTORUM: OK.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and then I'm in big trouble. Senator Santorum, I hope you'll come back. You got an invitation to come back and finish the talk. Thank you, sir.

SANTORUM: Thank you.