In converted jail cell, Kemp talks tough on illegal immigrants

Secretary of State Brian Kemp at a campaign stop in Jefferson, Ga.

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Secretary of State Brian Kemp at a campaign stop in Jefferson, Ga.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp launched his statewide bus tour Monday with a trip to a former city jail converted into a coffee shop, where he outlined a crackdown on illegal immigration.

The Republican told a few dozen supporters it was “insane” that immigrants in the country illegally get healthcare coverage when “residents are getting priced out of the market.”

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“Level the Playing Field”, the Phrase of the Week by James Salzer. Video by Bob Andres /

In a nod to Gov. Nathan Deal's criminal justice overhaul, he said tougher restrictions on access to insurance benefits should also be up for consideration.

“I’m all for accountability courts and helping those who need helping,” he said. “But for those who are here illegally, and not following the rules, we need to send them home.”

Kemp is one of five leading Republicans in the race to succeed Deal. He faces Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, former state Sen. Hunter Hill, business executive Clay Tippins and state Sen. Michael Williams in the May primary.

Two Democrats – former state lawmakers Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans – are competing for their party’s nomination.

After his campaign stop, Kemp said discussions with hospital executives who lament about spending millions in indigent care to people who aren’t in the country legally helped inform his policy.

“I get that medical professionals have a duty to do that, but the American people are paying for it,” said Kemp, who like other Republican contenders is a critic of the Affordable Care Act. “Families are paying $2,000 a month for insurance with a $5,000 deductible. And people are fed up with that.”

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