DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Chris Christie drew a hard line on immigration while in Iowa on Saturday, telling the conservative crowd here that people who come to the United State's illegally should not be granted citizenship.
The governor and Republican presidential candidate, speaking on the famous "soap box" at the Iowa State Fair, said unauthorized immigrants should be denied legal status.
"Anyone who knowingly came here illegally shouldn't become a citizen. I just don't believe they should become a citizen," Christie said to applause and cheers from the crowd.
"I think American citizenship is an enormous gift and if you came here by breaking the law, I don't think you should get citizenship," he said. "We don't want people to be rewarded for (knowingly engaging in) illegal conduct. It doesn't make any sense to reward folks for that."
RELATED: WATCH: Pig crate protesters storm Christie's soap box stage in Iowa
The line was delivered during Christie's 20-minute back and forth with a good-sized crowd which gathered around the soap box to ask the governor their questions.
Christie's hardline on unauthorized immigrants spurred about a dozen protesters to chant "citizenship now!" for the remainder of Christie's session.
The group wasn't the only protesters angered by Christie.
Shortly after that exchange, a pair of men who opposed his veto of a controversial pig crate bill stormed the soap box stage. The men, and a woman who also jumped on stage with them, were quickly wrestled off the stage by police.
The governor arrived at the fair grounds located in Des Moines on Saturday morning. He was joined by First Lady Mary Pat Christie and the couple's four children. The governor posed for a picture with his family in front of the famed butter cow at the fair, before shaking hands with Iowans and making his way to the soap box.