Romney hits Gingrich over immigration
November 23rd, 2011
04:18 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney hits Gingrich over immigration

(CNN) - Mitt Romney criticized fellow Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich Wednesday for supporting lighter restrictions against illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for years.

"People who come into this country illegally should not have a special break or special pathway to become permanent residents or citizens of this country," Romney said at a campaign stop in Des Moines.

Political Notebook: Wolf Blitzer joins Bob Costantini to go over the Tuesday night Republican candidates debate that Wolf moderated. And contributor John Avlon accuses the Super Committee of wasting an opportunity.

His comments came in response to Gingrich's knock against the GOP in CNN's Republican National Security Debate on Tuesday, where he referred to Republican immigration policies as inhumane.

Gingrich argued that the GOP, which bills itself as the "party of the family," needed to adopt policies that avoid breaking up families "who have been here a quarter century."

"I'm prepared to take the heat for saying, 'let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families,'" Gingrich said at the debate in Washington, D.C.

The former House Speaker, who has surged to the top of the GOP field in recent weeks, quickly faced pushback from some of his debate opponents over his comments. Both Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann blasted his position as a form of "amnesty."

And in reaction on Wednesday, Iowa Rep. Steve King, a political heavyweight in the state with the nation's first presidential contest, cast Gingrich's position as too soft on illegal immigration.

"I think if Speaker Gingrich had that to do over again he might couch his language differently, at a minimum," King said in an interview set to air Friday on Iowa Public Television.

When asked, King, who holds a highly sought-after endorsement ahead of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus, said the comments had distanced him "a little bit away" from Gingrich.

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Will somebody tell the $150M flip flopper that the newt left his position as speaker in disgrace? And . . . . who cares what the flake has to say? More Roots band music for her 🙂

    November 23, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. Showmeyerpapers

    Not only have illegal invaders slit the throats of the working man they are responsible for 75% of the crime here in denver radioreference dot com monitor police and ems frequencies for yourself they must have killed 250000Americans in the last 50 years look at lapd online all most wanted 95% spanic. I knew newt was the turd samich. I dont care if an illegal sailed with washington , REMOVE THEM! The states want the laws ENFORCED PERIOD! Theyll bankrupt EVERY STATE! LOOK AT CALIFORNIA FOR GOD SAKE!

    November 23, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Brittanicus

    Immigration is a highly volatile issue and no matter what the two parties say it will have equal ranking with the jobs and the economy. This was illustrated on CNN cable when former Speaker Newt Gingrich stated for the record, that people who had been here at least twenty five years, with roots could in some way become a legitimate member of this society, but with no path to citizenship–and those who came here in the last 5 years would not be accepted and would be eventually deported. The only problem I see with this as many others in the GOP race to become President simply did not entertain this, because others will see this as soft on immigration enforcement, and a 'magnet' for others to arrive in even larger numbers. It's a complex state of affairs and the only avenue, I see for long term illegal residents, no matter if they are paying taxes, without a criminal background, have children or as Newt said 'going to church, is to file papers and then leave the country and wait in line like every other potential immigrant. Otherwise is greatly unfair to honest people, who have waited patiently years for a visa in other countries.

    For the other illegal aliens who have no support, especially those who are in the welfare system, they must depart under their own means or eventually be deported. With the potential inception of the 'Legal Workforce Act' getting any job nationwide, will grow even more difficult for illegal migrants and immigrants. Businesses are under the growing pressure of being caught, with a chance of a large fines, loss of business assets and even prison. With an estimated 22 million Americans unemployed, many given-up, should add a urgency to enacting E-Verify. But as the candidates informed Moderator Wolf Blitzer, in last night’s debate, the border fence must be secured initially as that to me means the 2006 Secure Fence Act. Texas Governor Rick Perry added to the commentary a need for 'Boots on the ground' Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, whom Gingrich had overtaken in the polls, jumped on the prospect to distance himself from the former congressman.

    So far the Mandatory E-Verify Congressional bill has been ignored, accurately as the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill had been–that GOP nominating candidate Gingrich expressed. Newt Gingrich is very well versed in immigration history; he and other supporters of the bill were promised certain regulations that were watered down. Gingrich added, “We were going to get two things in return,” he said. “We were going to get control of the border and we were going to get a guest worker program with employer enforcement. We got neither.”

    So the giant magnet for cheap labor is still obvious, because the politicians had obviously colluded with the business lobbyists, not enforcing the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act. This type of reply will not go down well with Conservatives, specifically the millions of TEA PARTY members-a growing force of voters in thousands of nationwide branches. The Liberal Progressive, including their compatriots in the media, has tried to undermine the voting power of the TEA PARTY, moderate Democrats, and uncountable numbers voters in every political party. The disillusionment for the present administration has drawn the regular American out of their morass; unknown numbers who have never voted before. Not just white citizens but, but black people, Hispanics, Orientals and all racial majorities.
    On private land along the borders are hidden cameras placed there by concerned ranchers and property owners. The mind-set of the Democratic agenda is to expel that fewer aliens are crossing the border? The camera’s lens show a different story as the trails are still full of both hundreds of illegal groups daily, with the packed (mules) of drug migrant recruitment. There is no slowdown, as being recorded through this equipment. The border is still full of vast stretched of open land, barring a few rusty strands of barbed wire that has been there for decades. What all the prospective presidential candidates impressed on the audience was that the ‘Fence is not secured’ and without the House and Senate being integrated fully with the new fresh-faced TEA PARTY policymakers—it never will. Our immigration laws remain broken because of the undying influence of the thousands of lobbyists who jamb the halls of Congress. IF YEARS BACK ENTERING THE UNITED STATES WAS A FELONY, THEN THE WHOLE ISSUE WOULD BE RESOLVED

    Firstly there is strong support for E-Verify law, The Legal Workforce Act, bill number H.R.2885, as just 35 co-sponsors are needed to bring this to the House floor. . Those American not working and want a job should get into action and phone 202-224-3121 in Washington and demand ‘ The Legal Workforce Act’ bill be passed. As an addition, you can go to the website of NumbersUSA and freely fax your House Representatives. All politicians, especially who are in the new TEA PARTY leadership will be held accountable in coming elections. The majority of those politicians in Washington have their own site on the web, so everybody with access to a computer can write an E-mail.

    November 23, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Rep. King supported the terrorist Irish Republican Army and "humane" Gingrich served his first wife divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer surgery. Then there's flip-flop Mitt who made his millions breaking up American companies, laying off American workers and shipping American jobs overseas.

    What a bunch of losers!

    November 23, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. augustghost

    Brittanicus...thank you for the manifesto

    November 23, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    It is really easier to say "deport" than it is to actually do it. Many people who are here come from countries with no record of their existence. Many come from rural areas are "off the radar" of their countries of origin. Now what?

    November 23, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. chuck weidemann

    Romney finally flops on board with the teapubs and Newt flipped them both off!!! Only The Big Newt knows why he did what he did...but I'm damn sure it wasn't for any noble reason!!!

    November 23, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Daniel C

    I admire Newt for standing in strong support of family values and respecting life. He's the kind of leader we need now.

    November 23, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. lgny

    I'm no fan of Newt, but he got it right on this issue. It's silly to waste time and money to deport illegals who have been living here many many years, paying taxes, and acting like citizens.

    Romney reminds me of Inspector Javert from Les Misérables, pursuing endlessly Jean ValJean for a crime committed decades ago. While technically correct, it fails the "humanity" test.

    November 23, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. Nash

    @Newt standing up for family values comment. Very funny, we need more informed people like you.

    November 23, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. Nash

    How can Romney criticize anyone on immigration? He is part of the problem. He is the "magnet" that attracts illegal immigrants to come here because he hired them back when he wasn't running and flip flopping!

    November 23, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  12. Patricia Murray, M.D

    I think Newt Gingrich had another excellent debate last night and I appreciate his humane approach to immigration. To those who happen to read my comment, I would recommend that you visit to read his more in depth solution to the immigration problem. Newt Gingrich has the solutions and leadership this country so desperately needs.

    November 23, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. The Greedy Old PIgs have declared class war on US!

    I see the low information folk missed Romney's mention of increasing certain visas. For those that don't know, those are the visas big business uses to underpay foreign workers instead of hiring Americans. Romney is clearly a puppet for Rove and the 1%ers. "Corporations are people too" should be obvious enough, and yet our uneducated and/or delusional population refuse to see what is right in front of their face.

    November 23, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. vic , nashville ,tn

    Mitt Romney out of touch
    Arizona pass the toughest immigration law first author of the bill recalled because bill was hurting Arizona
    Alabama took further step and pass the toughest immigration law in the nation results farmers lost money, Job creator Mercedes-Benz manager locked up

    November 23, 2011 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. liberaliar

    Romney will say anything and flip flop on it with whoever happens to be talking next. Who Cares.

    November 23, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. MarineVet

    Engraved in our Statue of Liberty:
    "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    Isn't our world populated by one family? Are we not the same United States that shows compassion for those in need? Frankly, I don't see immigration as a question of "illegals vs. legals," but rather simply "people," just like all of us.

    November 23, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  17. CanadaOne

    In the Northern boader – 30 million people cross a year – the financial exchange makes it the number one boarder in the WORLD

    If the gop get in we are building a fence and will trade with the east – China has already asked us for all of our oil.


    November 23, 2011 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  18. Satberry

    Romney is thee most dangerous republican running for potus.please call him what he is a pathological lier. Flip flopping is to kind

    November 23, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  19. Dave R.

    Well, who is going to pay for rounding up all of them and sending them back?? Since no one wants to pay more taxes, where will the money come from??

    November 23, 2011 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  20. chuck weidemann

    MarineVet .....the world needs more people that think like you. Well said.

    November 23, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. DREAM15X

    It just really is not fair to all the other people throughout the world who want to immigrate to America and some who desperately need to leave a country due to civil unrest just because a body of water separates them from this continent. Fair is fair and everyone should have equal opportunity, not just the immigrants who live close to our border and this should be within legal system guidelines with protocol. No special privileges for those near by–period.

    November 23, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. bilk7

    I don't agree with Gingrich's stand on immigration but of all people to hit him on it...Romney??? The same guy who twice hired companies to maintain his lawn and paint his house with illegals? If this wasn't such a serious issue, it would be funny.

    November 23, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  23. gt

    newt has change his tune ... illegals who are crimminals or a burden on the government ...we dont want you here...

    November 23, 2011 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  24. Lene, Il

    Paying taxes? How does an illegal pay income tax? Don't you have to have a Social Security Number to do that? If the illegal is paying taxes with a SSI number than obviously he has committed a serious crime agianst a citizen and our sovereignty. We need to start educating our own children into fields that are in demand instead of importing or training foreignors. If I knowingly committ a crime that I know could separate me from my family and I get caught should I not face the conscequence then because it will hurt my family? It's time to enforce the laws people!

    November 23, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  25. John

    Don't worry Newt Gingrich is only saying It now because he want there vote and as soon as he get It he will changes his mind and want to send all of the back. Just like all the Republican do, All he doing Is Lying now to get there vote. That what Newt Gingrich does best, that and Cheat on his wife.

    November 23, 2011 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
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