Perry endorses work visas for illegal immigrants

November 3, 2011 - 6:45 PM
Perry 2012

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a town hall meeting with employees at Pioneer Hi-Bred, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry says America should extend work visas to allow illegal immigrants to move freely between the U.S. and their home countries — but opposes a path to citizenship.

The Republican presidential candidate told CNN's John King on Thursday that expecting authorities to arrest and deport millions of illegal immigrants isn't realistic. He added, however, that other Republicans, including former President George W. Bush, went too far by proposing a path to citizenship.

He didn't elaborate on what a work visa program might look like and said it can only happen if the federal government first secures America's southern border.

Perry also repeated his opposition to a fence running the length of that border, saying it wouldn't work and would take 10 to 15 years to build.