Blaming President Barack Obama for messing up the immigration system in the US, Republican presidential candidates talked tough on illegal immigration, describing it as a “serious problem” with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal calling it “an invasion”.
Business tycoon Donald Trump took credit for brining the issue of illegal immigration to the attention of the Americans and said a wall needs to be built to keep “illegals out”.
“So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration. This was not a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement,” Trump said in the Prime Time Republican primary debate hosted by Fox News in Cleveland, Ohio yesterday.
Trump, who has drawn flak for his remarks in the past that Mexico is sending people bringing drugs, criminals and rapists into the US, said, “killings, murders, crime, drugs (are) pouring across the border, money (is) going out and the drugs coming in.
He said a wall has to be built quickly, even with “a big beautiful door” that allows people to come into the US legally.
“But we need to build a wall, we need to keep illegals out,” he said.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has been trailing in second place behind Trump in the polls, said America needs to control its border and it is the responsibility of the US to pick and choose who comes in as he opposed extending amnesty to illegal immigrants.
“We need to be much more strategic on how we deal with border enforcement, border security. We need to eliminate the sanctuary cities in this country. It is ridiculous and tragic that people are dying because of the fact that — that local governments are not following the federal law. There’s much to do,” he said.
Accusing Obama of talking about immigration as a “wedge issue” for the last six years, Bush said as the next President, he “will fix this once and for all so that we can turn this into a driver for high sustained economic growth.”
Earlier, seven of the 17 Republican presidential candidates appeared at Fox News’s second-tier debate.
Indian-American Jindal, who could not make the cut for the prime time debate, described immigration without simulation as “an invasion”.
“Immigration without simulation is an invasion. We need to tell folks who want to come here they need to come here legally. They need to learn English, adopt values, roll up their sleeves and get to work,” he said.
Jindal reiterated his position on “hyphenated Americans and the divisions,” saying he was tired of “hyphenated identities.” He has in the past insisted that Americans are not “Indian-Americans or African-Americans or Asian-Americans” but just “Americans.