Gov. Rick Perry listens to a reporter's question during a news conference in the Governor's press room, July 21, 2014, in Austin, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP

Rick Perry: Child immigrants a ‘side issue’


House Republicans may have managed to pass a revised border funding package Friday just before the start of a five-week recess, but the bills landed on President Obama’s desk a little too late, leaving the crisis still very much unresolved.

Texas Governor Rick Perry weighed in on next steps Sunday, stating that the recent influx of child immigrants should be considered a “side-issue” when addressing the border crisis. 

“What we are substantially more concerned about in the state of Texas, and I will suggest to you, across this country, are the 80% plus individuals who don’t get talked about enough who are coming into the United States illegally and committing substantial crimes,” Perry said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin, 8/2/14, 5:16 PM ET

The prospects for a border bill

Bloomberg News’ Jonathan Allen and Washington Post reporter David Nakamura discuss the last-minute efforts by Congress to get a border bill approved before recess.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) – who less than a year ago passed comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate as a key member of the “Gang of Eight” – on Sunday suggested a 3-step approach to addressing the border crisis. 

“I’ve been dealing with this issue now for the better part of 18 months and I know now more than ever that if you are in favor of immigration reform, then we have to reevaluate the process by which we achieve it,” the prospective 2016 presidential candidate said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Step one is to first deal with the legal immigration, secure the border, win people’s confidence that in reality this problem is under control. Step two would be to modernize our legal immigration laws geared more towards a merit-based system like what Canada has, as opposed to the family-based system. Step three … would be to address in a reasonable, yet responsible way, the fact that we have nine, 10, 11 million people living in this country illegally,” Rubio told host Chris Wallace.

RELATED: Border crisis could play a big role in 2016 campaign

Wallace questioned Rubio’s latest position on immigration reform asking “if it’s not political, why have you flipped? You’re now saying it has to be done in stages, before you wanted a comprehensive plan.”

Rubio responded, saying “that’s not accurate Chris. I think we’re talking about two separate things, we’re not talking about what to do, I just outlined to you what to do: security, reform of modernizing the legal system, and then address the people who are here. So we’re not debating what to do, we’re debating how to do it.”

House Republicans managed to pass a $694 million border bill Friday, a revised version of the $2.7 billion emergency funding package proposed by Democrats in the Senate. The White House immediately responded to the passage of the smaller bill stating “the legislation … does not responsibly address the problem of unaccompanied minors at the border.”

With a bill that stands no chance of advancing past the president’s desk, and lawmakers away on a five-week recess, Obama said he would consider his options on taking executive action to enhance funding.

Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry

Rick Perry: Child immigrants a 'side issue'