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Santorum Tells Tea Party Audience He'd Be Willing to Break Up Illegal Immigrants' Families Santorum Tells Tea Party Audience He'd Be Willing to Break Up Illegal ...

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CAMPAIGN 2012

Santorum Tells Tea Party Audience He'd Be Willing to Break Up Illegal Immigrants' Families

The former senator also chides rivals Romney and Gingrich in the hours before an Arizona debate.

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Sen. Rick Santorum speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition's 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011.(Chet Susslin)

TUCSON, Ariz. – Rick Santorum, making rare remarks on immigration before an audience of tea party supporters here, pledged to secure the border and suggested he would be willing to break up families if some members are in America illegally.

To justify his comments, Santorum recalled the experiences of his grandfather, who was separated from his family for five years when he immigrated to America and worked until they were able to join him. 

 

“I understand the heartache of well, what happens if you send people back? They’re going to be separated from their family. That’s right. America is worth it to do it the right way,” Santorum said. “We are a country of laws and the best way you can show your respect for our country is to respect our laws. So, this is not a hostile … this is just who we are. If you want to be part of who we are, then be part of who we are.”

The former Pennsylvania senator rarely discusses immigration on the stump. But it affects everyday life in Tucson, 70 miles from the Mexican border, and it is a hot-button issue for Arizona conservatives.  

In another departure from his usual stump speech, which focuses almost exclusively on attacking President Obama, Santorum took jabs at his opponents several times. He suggested that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who put out a plan on Wednesday to reduce taxes, was playing catch-up with Santorum’s proposals. "Welcome to the party, governor. Great to have you along,” he said.

 

Santorum also highlighted past support from Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for limiting carbon emissions. “I was not one who bought into the climate science of man-made global warming. I did not sit on a couch with anybody, other than my wife,” he said, invoking a 2008 ad Gingrich filmed with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to urge action on global warming. “Nor did I pass, as a governor of a state, a cap on carbon emissions, CO2 emissions, and then crow about it that they were the first in the country. I can’t remember—it was somewhere New England somewhere that they did that.”

The audience had no trouble understanding the reference to Romney and chuckled in response.

Santorum did not let Obama off the hook entirely. “We do have serious threats that this president is uniformly making worse. He's making the world a much more dangerous place as he continues to pull America back” and allows “forces of evil” to go unchecked, Santorum charged.  “Our president refuses to call evil, evil, refuses to even name it, refuses to confront it, tries to appease and cajole it, in an effort to reduce America's commitments around the world.” He said we shouldn’t “just try to make nice with those who are actively doing harm to America and its allies,” because history proves that doesn’t work.

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