Intent on drawing a clear contrast between rival Newt Gingrich and herself, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann called for 11 million illegal immigrants to be deported from the United States in steps.
In the week since a GOP debate during which Gingrich supported legalizing some undocumented immigrants, Bachmann has pounded the former House Speaker, likening his position to “amnesty” and circulating a letter he co-authored in 2004 that supported a path for worker legalization.
Asked by radio host Laura Ingraham on Monday about an earlier statement she made differentiating between immigrants who had recently entered the country illegally from those with longstanding ties to the United States, Bachmann said she was never referring to legalization.
“What I’m talking about is the order of deportation, the sequence of deportation,” Bachmann replied. “It is almost impossible to move 11 million illegal immigrants overnight. You do it in steps.”
Bachmann said deporting those convicted of crimes would be the first step.
She also said that while she hadn’t seen any polls detailing her level of support among Hispanic voters, she believes they are seeking the same answers from government as everyone else: a chance to pursue a prosperous life.
That doesn’t include extending government benefits such as in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, Bachmann contended, this time pushing back on another of her competitors, Gov. Rick Perry, who has upheld that policy in Texas.
“When we give the welfare state, then people won’t be able to come out of it. It’s the biggest trap that people can have,” she said.