2012 Republican candidate for President, Newt Gingrich took time from his Thanksgiving Day celebration yesterday to clarify, and to refuse to change, his stance on establishing a humane way to allow specific groups of illegal immigrants a legal path to live and work in the United States, without granting citizenship.
During a foreign policy debate sponsored by The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute last week, Mr. Gingrich suggested it is not practical to deport, en masse, some 11 million illegals and proposed that those who had resided in the U. S. for a generation, or some 25 years be given legality, without granting citizenship, so they can work legally and not be separated from children and grandchildren.
Mr. Gingrich was responding to a question regarding the 1986 amnesty program during the Reagan administration that legalized 3 million illegals. He responded by saying that illegals who have been here for 25 years, have children and grandchildren, work and obey the laws, attend church, he didn’t think we would separate them from their family and deport them.
Listening to him state his position, personalizes this issue in a way that is not normally present in the anti-illegal rhetoric. Pollsters may ask a group of selected individuals if they favor or oppose illegal immigration, and presented with a yes or no question, will give a yes or no answer. If the same group was posed this question about their good neighbor of 25 years, it would and could not be a simple yes or no answer.
Mr. Gingrich also supports border enforcement including drone surveillance, penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegals, but would address these problems first before undertaking the process of deciding which illegal stays and which goes.
Once again, media reports now diminish the possibility of a Gingrich campaign win and write him off as a viable presidential candidate. One exception is an editorial in the Wall Street Journal today which says “Mr. Gingrich’s critics may or may not be humane, but they are definitely insincere.” Foes of his position continue to skip three words of his answer that night- “without granting citizenship.”
This is an idea that deserves measured examination and discussion, not short sighted criticism in the high pitched, often hateful rhetoric involving the overall problems with illegal immigration. Perhaps Colorado could be at the forefront of this debate since Tom Tancredo’s name is being evoked once again by the liberal left as the villainous voice of the right.