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Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry and Rick Santorum couldn’t answer a simple question about immigration during the first GOP presidential debate on Thursday. Both candidates—who argue they would be the toughest on immigration and have the most experience on the issue—completely dodged a question about immigration policies that break families apart.

“What would you say to a child born and raised in America who could see their family broken apart by your [immigration] policy?” asked Fox News host Bill Hemmer, who was the only person in the 80-minute debate to refer to immigrants as “illegals.”

Santorum began by saying his father was stuck in Benito Mussolini's Italy for seven years before being able to come to the U.S. to join the rest of his family, alluding to him being able to deal with family separation.

“The reason America is a great country, the reason is because our compassion is in our laws and we live by those laws and treat everyone equally under those laws. That’s when people feel good about being Americans,” he said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2013 deported more than 72,000 parents who said they had U.S.-born children, according to reports sent to Congress. Santorum and Perry were participating in a Fox News “happy hour debate” for those candidates who missed the bar to appear in Thursday’s primetime showdown.

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Hemmer posed the same question to Perry, the former governor of Texas. “Gov. Perry, try answering this question again, what do you say to the family of illegals?”

“The fact is the border is still porous until we have a president of the United States that gets up every day and goes to the Oval Office with the intent purpose of securing that border. There is not anybody on either one of these stages that has the experience dealing with this as I have for over 14 years with that 1,200-mile border,” Perry said.

Still, the immigration-related quote of the forum belonged to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who came out forcefully against “hyphenated Americans.”

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“Immigration without assimilation is invasion,” Jindal said.