Scottsdale, Arizona (CNN) – Calls to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws will fade away as soon as Mexico jump-starts its economy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry predicted Wednesday.
Perry, speaking to reporters at the Republican Governors Association’s annual conference in Arizona, ridiculed Democratic efforts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill without first enhancing security along the Texas-Mexico border.
But Perry said the debate over immigration reform - and perhaps the heated political battles over border security - could end up being pointless thanks to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Nieto is working to overhaul his country’s energy laws in order to lure greater investment from outside oil and gas companies, thereby boosting job creation. Energy production in Mexico has been state-run for 75 years.
“I think immigration reform is going to be very passé,” Perry said. “It’s going to be part of the past. And one of the reasons is that is that when Mexico liberalizes the energy policy down there and the Mexicans who are here illegally go home… and as a matter of fact there might be a lot of folks who maybe are U.S. citizens going to Mexico looking for jobs in the energy industry.”
“And (at) that particular point in time,” he added, “this whole discussion about immigration reform, I think it goes away for one thing. And the idea about border security may shift from the United States and Mexico border, down to the Guatemala-Mexican border.”
Asked how long such a scenario might take to unfold, Perry said it “depends on how fast the Congress in Mexico works.”
But he said President Pena Nieto “is very committed to improving the economic lot in Mexico.”