Republican candidate Rick Perry says he does not support “amnesty” for illegal immigrants in any form.

Earlier this fall Perry’s competitors criticized the law he signed as Texas governor which allows illegal immigrants — primarily kids brought into the country by their parents — to pay in-state college tuition if they’ve filed the paperwork to become a citizen. Now that an immigration reform proposal from rival Newt Gingrich is getting scrutiny, Perry is pouncing.

“I don’t think the American people are ever going to agree to amnesty in any form or fashion,” Perry says. “…The country’s going to have a conversation about how to deal with immigration reform, but that is not going to happen until we secure the border.” 

Perry, though, isn’t ready to offer a detailed plan today about how to deal with the 11-12 million illegal immigrants who are already in the country.

“I can assure you that we’re wise enough people to figure out how to deal with them,” Perry says, “but it will not be amnesty in any form or fashion.”

Perry touts the hundreds of millions of dollars the State of Texas has spent on border security during his time as Texas governor. Perry pledges that as president, he would deploy “thousands” of national guard troops to the border with Mexico and have the area secured by January of 2014.

“If you don’t secure the border and if you don’t have a sustainable effort to secure the border, then all the talk that you have about immigration reform is just that. It’s just talk,” Perry says. “It’s just posturing and I’m tired of that.”

He also pledges a get-tough on “criminal aliens” policy if he’s elected president.

“Under my administration, we’ll detain and deport every illegal alien that we pick up,” Perry says. “And we’ll do so with expedited hearings on their citizenship status and then we’ll deal with them appropriately.”

Perry made his comments earlier this evening during a telephone town hall meeting with what his campaign said were “tens of thousands” of Iowans.