National Press Club

Santorum agrees with Trump on border wall, but wants American workers to build it

August 20, 2015 | By Wesley G. Pippert | pippertW@missouri.edu

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum during his Speakers news conference at National Press Club Aug. 20

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum during his Speakers news conference at National Press Club Aug. 20

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum proposed before a National Press Club Speakers news conference Aug. 20 slowing the flow of illegal immigrants by building a wall along the border and depriving their children born in the United States of automatic citizenship.

Santorum, lagging behind his 2012 pace in his race for the White House, acknowledged that his ideas were similar to those of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. The main difference, he said, was Trump's "lack of specifics." Trump has said he would make Mexico pay for the wall; "I want American workers to build the wall," Santorum said.

Santorum said he would build "hundreds of miles of new wall," and use technology and more personnel in enforcement.

Himself the son of immigrants and a former two-term senator from Pennsylvania,Santorum bluntly said illegal immigrants should not get automatic citizenship for their children, even those born in America.

"They knew fully what they were doing," he said. "I don't like it" when families are broken up or children are denied citizenship, he said, "but they are breaking the law ... and they put their children in that situation." And he said there was "legal dispute" over the 14th Amendment, which established birthright citizenship.

Santorum also called for establishing a tracking system to detect if immigrants overstay their visas and, targeting sanctuary cities, to withhold federal funds from any city that fails to enforce the law.

He vigorusly denied several times he was anti-immigrant. "You're welcome to America if you work hard and obey the law," a phrase he recited several times.

Santorum, a father of seven including the youngest who has disabilities, showed the most passion during the one-hour news conference when he spoke out against abortion and the allegations that Planned Parenthood has harvested body parts from fetuses for research.

"Planned Parenthood should be prosecuted, not (only) defunded," Santorum said, adding that Planned Parenthood treats the fetuses as if they're not human beings, and yet harvests them for human beings.

Club President John Hughes asked Santorum that in light of the polls, what would make him realize it was time to drop out of the race.

Santorum referred to a Supreme Court definition and said, "You know it when you see it."

"Right now I feel very comfortable."