Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said lazy residents who don't want to take jobs harvesting the state's crops are the root of South Carolina's problems with illegal immigration.
Bauer's remarks came at the opening of a debate Friday of Republican gubernatorial hopefuls in Spartanburg. The candidates were asked about Arizona's new tough illegal immigration law and whether South Carolina should do more to fight the problem.
"The real problem is the work force," Bauer said. State relief programs leave people unwilling to work the jobs in fields and orchards now filled with migrant workers, he said.
"The problem is, we have a giveaway system in this country and in this state that is so strong people would rather sit home and do nothing than do these jobs.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sun News
"Laziness is not a disability," Bauer said.
"There are lot of people that are flat-out lazy and they are using up the goods and services that we have in this state."
Bauer has made a point throughout the race for the June 8 GOP nomination for governor of criticizing people who depend on the state for help.
The national spotlight turned on him in January when he said: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that."
In the midst of the uproar, Bauer launched his first ads of the campaign and said he was only saying the things that needed to be said but others were too politically correct to talk about.
Bauer shared the stage with U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, state Rep. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Henry McMaster.