Carson on Immigration: ‘My Plan Is Not Amnesty’

By Melanie Arter | September 17, 2015 | 3:49pm EDT
GOP presidential candidate retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson (left) stands next to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump (right) (AP Photo)

( – Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson said Wednesday at the GOP presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., that his immigration plan is “not amnesty,” because the illegal immigrants who will be allowed to stay in the U.S. as guest workers don’t have the privileges of U.S. citizens.

“Senator [Ted] Cruz describes plans such as yours as amnesty. Why is your plan not amnesty?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked.

“My plan is not amnesty for a number of reasons. Number one, you know, I've talked to farmers, and they said they cannot hire Americans to do the kind of job that I'm talking about, and the second reason is because the individuals who register as guest workers, they don't get to vote. They are not American citizens, and they don't get the rights and privileges of American citizens. So that's key,” said Carson.


As reported earlier, Carson told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sept. 13 that his immigration plan would include giving illegal immigrants six months to register as guest workers.

“Those who are here, you know, we have to recognize that we can't just round them up, but we can give them an opportunity to register. I would give them a six-month period, and if they register and they have a pristine record, they haven't been causing problems, I would give them an opportunity to become guest workers, not citizens, not voting people, not people who get goodies,” Carson said at the time.


Earlier in the debate, Tapper asked Carson, “I want to bring in Dr. Carson, because he too has been skeptical of your plan to immediately deport 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants. He said, quote, ‘People who say that have no idea what this entails.’ Why do you say that, Dr. Carson?”

Carson: “Well, first of all, I recognize that we have an incredible illegal immigration problem. I was down in Arizona a few weeks ago at the border. I mean, the fences that were there were not manned, and those are the kind of fences when I was a kid that would barely slow us down. So, I don't see any purpose in having that.”

“Now, what we need to do is look at something that actually works. Yuma County, Arizona. They stop 97 percent of the illegal immigrants through there. They put in a double fence with a road so that there was quick access by the enforcement people. If we don't seal the border, the rest of this stuff clearly doesn't matter. It's kind of ridiculous all the other things we talk about. We have the ability to do it, we don't have the will to do it.”

“There was one area where they had cut a hole in the fence, and to repair it, they put a few strands of barb wire across. Well, the photographers who were there with us, they wanted to photograph us from the side of the Mexicans, and they went through there, and they were not physically fit people, and they took their cameras and things with them, and shot us from the other side.”

That's how easy it is to get across. And, the drugs, I mean, it goes on, and on, and on. ICE tells them to release these people, 67,000 criminals released on to our property, it's ridiculous.”

Tapper: “Dr. Carson, with all due respect, you said about Donald Trump's plan to deport 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants, ‘People who say that have no idea what this entails.’ Why not?”

Carson: “Well, I have also said, if anybody knows how to do that, that I would be willing to listen. And, if they can, you know, specify exactly how that's going to be done, and what the cost, and it sounds reasonable, then I think it's worth discussing.”

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