WALLACE: Gentlemen, we’re turning to a new subject that all of you have been talking about and some of you have been disagreeing about, and that is the issue of immigration.
Governor Bush, you released a new plan this week on illegal immigration focusing on enforcement, which some suggest is your effort to show that you’re not soft on that issue.
I want to ask you about a statement that you made last year about illegal immigrants. And here’s what you said. “They broke the law, but it’s not a felony, it’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family.”
Do you stand by that statement and do you stand by your support for earned legal status?
BUSH: I do. I believe that the great majority of people coming here illegally have no other option. They want to provide for their family.
But we need to control our border. It’s not — it’s our responsibility to pick and choose who comes in. So I — I’ve written a book about this and yet this week, I did come up with a comprehensive strategy that — that really mirrored what we said in the book, which is that we need to deal with E-Verify, we need to deal with people that come with a legal visa and overstay.
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…
BUSH: — that people are dying because of the fact that — that local governments are not following the federal law. There’s much to do. And I think rather than talking about this as a wedge issue, which Barack Obama has done now for six long years, the next president — and I hope to be that president — will fix this once and for all so that we can turn this into a driver for high sustained economic growth.
And there should be a path to earned legal status…
BUSH: — for those that are here. Not — not amnesty, earned legal status, which means you pay a fine and do many things over an extended period of time.
WALLACE: Thank you, sir.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals — rapists, drug dealers, across the border.
Governor Bush has called those remarks, quote, “extraordinarily ugly.”
I’d like you — you’re right next to him — tell us — talk to him directly and say how you respond to that and — and you have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share.
Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?
TRUMP: So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn’t even be talking about it.
TRUMP: This was not a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement. And I said, Mexico is sending. Except the reporters, because they’re a very dishonest lot, generally speaking, in the world of politics, they didn’t cover my statement the way I said it.
The fact is, since then, many killings,murders, crime, drugs pouring across the border, are money going out and the drugs coming in. And I said we need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly.
And I don’t mind having a big beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally. But we need, Jeb, to build a wall, we need to keep illegals out.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I’ll give you 30 seconds — I’ll give you 30 seconds to answer my question, which was, what evidence do you have, specific evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border? Thirty seconds.
TRUMP: Border Patrol, I was at the border last week. Border Patrol, people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what’s happening. Because our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid.
And the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. And they send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them. They don’t want to take care of them.
Why should they when the stupid leaders of the United States will do it for them? And that’s what is happening whether you like it or not.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WALLACE: All right. Obviously there’s a lot more to talk about this. We’re going to have more questions for the candidates on illegal immigration, plus other key topics including your questions on Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will be your plan on making immigration easier for those that want to do it legally?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What specific steps would you take to contain the growth of ISIS?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’d like to know what the candidates are going to do so that I feel safe in my own country again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Welcome back to FOX News/Facebook Republican Debate Night. We’re going to continue the questions now on illegal immigration. We kind of ended with a cliffhanger there. So let’s continue the conversation.
WALLCE: Governor Kasich, I know you don’t like to talk about Donald Trump. But I do want to ask you about the merit of what he just said. When you say that the American government is stupid, that the Mexican government is sending criminals, that we’re being bamboozled, is that an adequate response to the question of illegal immigration?
KASICH: Chris, first of all, I was just saying to Chris Christie, they say we’re outspoken, we need to take lessons from Donald Trump if we’re really going to learn it. Here is the thing about Donald Trump. Donald Trump is hitting a nerve in this country. He is. He’s hitting a nerve. People are frustrated. They’re fed up. They don’t think the government is working for them. And for people who want to just tune him out, they’re making a mistake.
Now, he’s got his solutions. Some of us have other solutions. You know, look, I balanced the federal budget as one of the chief architects when I was in Washington. Hasn’t been done since. I was a military reformer. I took the state of Ohio from an $8 billion hole and a 350,000 job loss to a $2 billion surplus and a gain of 350,000 jobs.
WALLACE: Respectfully, can we talk about illegal immigration?
KASICH: But the point is that we all have solutions. Mr. Trump is touching a nerve because people want the wall to be built. They want to see an end to illegal immigration. They want to see it, and we all do. But we all have different ways of getting there. And you’re going to hear from all of us tonight about what our ideas are.
WALLACE: All right, well, Senator Rubio, let me see if I can do better with you. Is it as simple as our leaders are stupid, their leaders are smart, and all of these illegals coming over are criminals?
RUBIO: Let me set the record straight on a couple of things. The first is, the evidence is now clear that the majority of people coming across the border are not from Mexico. They’re coming from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras. Those countries are the source of the people that are now coming in its majority.
I also believe we need a fence. The problem is if El Chapo builds a tunnel under the fence, we have to be able to deal with that too. And that’s why you need an e-verify system and you need an entry-exit tracking system and all sorts of other things to prevent illegal immigration. But I agree with what Governor Kasich just said. People are frustrated. This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigration. There are a million people a year who legally immigrate to the United States, and people feel like we’re being taken advantage of. We feel like despite our generosity, we’re being taken advantage of.
And let me tell you who never gets talked about in these debates. The people that call my office, who have been waiting for 15 years to come to the United States. And they’ve paid their fees, and they hired a lawyer, and they can’t get in. And they’re wondering, maybe they should come illegally.
RUBIO: And so these are important issues, and we should address it. It’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and otherwise we’re going to keep talking about this for the next 30 years, like we have for the last 30 years.
WALLACE: Governor Walker.
WALLACE: Governor Walker, from 2002 until as recently as 2013, just two years ago, you supported comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. Now you say that was a quick reaction to something you hadn’t really thought about, and that you’ve changed your mind. Other than politics, could you explain why in the last two years you’ve changed your position on a path to citizenship, and are there other past positions that we shouldn’t hold you to?
WALKER: Chris, I actually said that on your show earlier this year.
WALKER: I acknowledged that. I said I actually listened to the American people. And I think people across America want a leader who’s actually going to listen to them.
I talked to border state governors and other elected officials. I look at how this president, particularly through last November, messed up the immigration system in this country. Most importantly, I listened to the people of America.
I believe we need to secure the border. I’ve been to the border with Governor Abbott in Texas and others, seeing the problems that they have there. There is international criminal organizations penetrating our southern based borders, and we need to do something about it. Secure the border, enforce the law, no amnesty, and go forward with the legal immigration system that gives priority to American working families and wages.
(APPLAUSE) WALLACE: Senator Cruz, some 1,400 people submitted questions on this very hot topic of illegal immigration on Facebook, and a number of them were about the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, allegedly shot down by an illegal. Doug Bettencourt sent this question, “will you support Kate Steinle’s Law,” which would impose a mandatory five-year prison term for an illegal who is deported and then returns to this country? “And will you defund sanctuary cities for violating federal law?”
CRUZ: Chris, absolutely yes. And not only will I support it–
CRUZ: — I have authored Kate’s law in the United States Senate and filed that legislation. I tried to get the Senate to vote to pass Kate’s law on the floor of the Senate just one week ago, and the leader of our own party blocked a vote on Kate’s law.
You know, there was reference made to our leaders being stupid. It’s not a question of stupidity. It’s that they don’t want to enforce the immigration laws. That there are far too many in the Washington cartel that support amnesty.
CRUZ: President Obama has talked about fundamentally transforming this country. There’s 7 billion people across the face of the globe, many of whom want to come to this country. If they come legally, great. But if they come illegally and they get amnesty, that is how we fundamentally change this country, and it really is striking.
A majority of the candidates on this stage have supported amnesty. I have never supported amnesty, and I led the fight against Chuck Schumer’s gang of eight amnesty legislation in the Senate.