DES MOINES, Iowa — Speaking to a conservative crowd in Iowa about illegal immigration Saturday, Ben Carson said the next person in the White House should aim to “seal the border” in the first 12 months of their presidency.
“I think who ever wins in 2016 — I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a Republican — I think they should make it their goal to seal that border within a year,” Carson said to applause.
The retired neurosurgeon, who says he is considering a run for president, discussed the issue at an event hosted by Iowa Rep. Steve King, who is known for his strong views against illegal immigration.
“You know, we have laws in place,” Carson said of immigration. “Common sense works great. We already have laws that demonstrate how a person can become an American citizen. We don’t have to re-litigate that. If we do re-litigate it, it needs to be done by the proper branch of government, which is Congress. It is not by the president. It is not by the Supreme Court.
At one point, Carson asked the crowd: “Do we have an illegal immigration problem?”
They responded in union: “Yes!”
Carson shot back: “Can we fix it?”
“Yes!” they responded again.
Carson went on to argue that illegal immigrants “wouldn’t be coming here if there wasn’t a magnet drawing them in.” He said the government should crack down on those who hire illegal immigrants, which would stop the flow in to the country.
“If you employ a person who is illegal, instead of getting a pass from the government, you should get a criminal activity on your record,” Carson said.
Carson then asked the audience again: “Do we have the ability to seal the border?
“YES!” they replied.
“Of course we do,” Carson said. “We just don’t have the will to seal the border.”
Asked by The Daily Caller after his speech if he has decided to run for the White House, Carson replied that he’s still considering it very carefully. “I have a surgical personality which means you have to dot a lot of I’s and cross a lot of T’s. And make sure you have a good infrastructure. And we’re in the process of doing all those things.”
Terry Giles, a longtime friend and adviser of Carson’s who would serve as chairman of the presidential campaign, recently told TheDC that Carson will likely announce an exploratory committee soon.
A formal announcement about entering the presidential contest would likely follow sometime before May, Giles said. “It won’t be later than May 1st. And whether it’s sooner than that will depend on circumstances.”
The mild-mannered Carson roamed around stage as he addressed the crowd on Saturday. “I always feel so welcome when I come to Iowa. So many people who actually have commonsense,” he said to laughter and applause.
The Saturday event, billed by speakers as the kick-off to the state’s 2016 caucuses, drew a number of potential Republican presidential candidates, including Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, John Bolton, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee.