DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that simply building a wall is not the best way to secure the U.S. border and halt illegal immigration.
Speaking at the Iowa State Fair, the Republican presidential hopeful said he would secure the border through more guards, fencing and air patrols. His comments came several days after 2016 GOP front-runner Donald Trump released an immigration plan that includes a permanent border wall and a plan to end citizenship rights for children born to families living illegally in the country.
"The idea that some would say, 'Let's just build a wall.' That may be good political rhetoric, but the real focus is on how are you going to secure the border,' " Perry said. He later questioned the logistics of building a wall, saying: "How long is it going to take? How much is it going to cost? What are you going to do about tunnels under it?"
On the issue of birthright citizenship, Perry noted that changing citizenship rules would require amending the Constitution and said he would prefer to focus on border security to prevent illegal immigration in the first place.
"I have to live with reality. Reality is it takes at best years, probably decades to deal with this 14th amendment issue," said Perry. "You get the border secure, the 14th amendment thing becomes inconsequential."
Perry, who has struggled recently in the polls and has stopped paying campaign staff due to lackluster fundraising, drew a sizable crowd to an appearance at a political soapbox hosted by the Des Moines Register. He touted his executive experience and stressed his commitment to putting more power in the hands of state government.
Asked about his fundraising during a news conference, Perry said things are looking up.
"We've had the best week of fundraising last week that we've had since June," Perry said, vowing to keep campaigning. "There are people who can keep a pretty small footprint. I'm one of them."
Perry's 2012 presidential campaign started with great fanfare, but stumbled quickly. He went from being a front-runner to an also-ran because of a series of gaffes and poor debate performances — most notably his "oops" moment, when he could only list two of the three federal agencies he said he would close if elected president.