Rick Perry believes that illegal immigrants who serve in the military should receive U.S. citizenship.

I think there is a path to citizenship for those young men and women who have served their country, Perry said.

That is a very unique set of individuals, and different than folks who have come here illegally and not given back in that particular way.

The Texas governor, who is seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, made the comment while stumping in the key primary state of South Carolina.

However, Perry also said that each state should be able to have their own immigration laws, although he added that the federal government should increase border patrol enforcement.

I am a big believer in the 10th Amendment, Perry said. State by state, they need to make those decisions about charging illegal immigrants in-state college tuition or passing laws like Arizona's SB 1070.

I happen to believe with all my heart that the states would be best served by being able to be free to make these decisions themselves, Perry added.

I didn't think that for the state of Texas and Arizona-exact law was right for the state of Texas. I didn't want to make our law enforcement officers federal immigration officers. So, state by state ought to be the way to do that, not by the federal government making one size fits all.

Perry, whose home state of Texas has a sizable Hispanic population, has to skirt the subject of illegal immigration carefully. His core conservative base is strongly opposed to granting citizenship rights top illegal immigrants.

 Once we secure the border, we can have a conversation about immigration reform in this country, but not until, he said. You must have the federal government putting the resources, the boots on the ground, the aviation assets in the air, and secure that border so that we know that the border is secure before we have a conversation about any immigration reform.