Gingrich defends immigration policies
November 25th, 2011
07:34 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich defends immigration policies

(CNN) – GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich sought to stand strong against illegal immigration Friday after rivals blasted him this week as a supporter of amnesty for millions of undocumented immigrants.

“I am not for amnesty for 11 million people. I’m actually not for amnesty for anyone. I’m not for a path to citizenship for any people who are out here illegally, ” Gingrich said forcefully at a town hall event in Naples, Florida. “But I am for a path to legality for those people whose ties run so deeply in America that it would truly be a tragedy to try and rip their family apart.”

Gingrich drew fire at Tuesday’s CNN Republican National Security Debate when he said he was “prepared to take the heat” for arguing that the GOP should take a “humane” position on longtime illegal immigrants by finding another way to “legality” that avoids breaking up families.

His opponents onstage pounced on his comments, and on Tuesday Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann took to the airwaves to blast Gingrich as “liberal” on illegal immigration and as a proponent of amnesty.

On Wednesday, he engaged in a back-and-forth with fellow GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, pointing to a 2007 interview in which the former Massachusetts governor said longtime illegal immigrants should "be able to stay, sign up for permanent residency or citizenship."

Romney’s campaign fired back, arguing that the video had been taken out of context and provided a fuller clip of the interview, in which Romney later said: “But they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally.”

The former House speaker insisted Friday night that he was anything but soft on the issue. He said controlling the border and making English the official language would be among his first tasks as president. He also called for a guest worker program, but only if it imposed harsh penalties on anyone who hires workers without documentation.

“I would have very, very stiff economic penalties for anyone who hires somebody who is not legally inside the system,” Gingrich said. “I would be very tough.”

Talking about Tuesday’s debate, Gingrich said his opponents had grossly twisted his words and he chided the GOP field for being unable to have an “honest, serious discussion about real solutions.”

He said the point he tried to make on Tuesday was that he believes the vast majority of illegal immigrants should be deported – with a few exceptions.

“I do think if somebody in your neighborhood has been here 25 years and they belong in your church, and they have three kids and two grandkids, and they've been paying taxes and working hard the entire time, it's going to be very, very hard to get the American people to believe that we ought to tear up those families and expel them,” he said.

Instead, he proposed that the country adopt a system used during World War II, in which communities made the decision as to who stays and who goes.

“They really tried to take general policy and give it a human face,” Gingrich said.

He insisted, however, that anyone who remains would qualify only for legal status and not American citizenship, “unless they go home and they apply through the regular procedures back home and get in line behind everybody else.”

soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Jason H

    Gingrich has hit the apex of the GOP nomination roller coaster and is now on his way down.

    November 25, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. Joel Wischkaemper

    This specifically implies that he supports birthright citizenship. The parents are illegal.. the children are American Citizens. The 14th Amendment is very, very clear. The children born to diplomats, visitors and aliens are not citizens unless the people involved fall under American Jurisdiction.
    The parents and the children are not under American Jurisdiction, and not citizens.

    “But I am for a path to legality for those people whose ties run so deeply in America that it would truly be a tragedy to try and rip their family apart.”

    November 25, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  3. don1966

    Wow... the GOP does NOT tolerate inhuman policy makers, they DEMAND them. The GOP faithful should not beat Newt down too badly. This is his first venture into seeing things like a human being. I'm certain he won't like it and in no time, he'll be back to his hateful ways.

    November 25, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. John

    Michele has the right approach. Mexico's policies are part of the problem giving the people hopelessness and a SH4ty quality of life. United States policies encouraging illegal immigration by taking care of them.

    November 25, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  5. John in Cal

    So each community gets to be the decider and be the bad guy if they say to deport. Nice try exlax. No way is that the right solution. I feel that the proper course is to have the Gov. investigate and then make the best decision and not to leave it to us who don't have all the info. Newt, you just proved to me why you are not the man for the job. fob it off on others, ya, that's real leadership qualities.

    November 25, 2011 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Any policies better than Obama's, will be more than welcome.

    November 25, 2011 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. PaulNYC

    Poor Newt. Is he not hate-filled enough?

    November 25, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  8. potcallskettleblack

    I am NOT for amnesty, except when I am for AMNESTY!

    November 25, 2011 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  9. kebcarerra

    What does going to church have anything to do with this or anything else? If I robbed a grocery store twenty five years ago because I was hungry and have gone to church since then and obeyed all the laws it makes it okay? What message are we giving people ? You think they are doing the work no one else will do? Think again. Most of us that are older remember picking fruit and what have you in the summer from middle school through high school. Someone did the work and it was good honest work and there is nothing wrong with it. If we as Americans don't harvest are food, then we can pay for not doing it at the check out . It's all quite simple and it worked for hundreds of years. Get off your hind end and do some labor work you over weight babies and quit wining.

    November 25, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. JimAR

    So, will all the drug cartel folks be eligible for the Gingrich amnesty program? What a bafoon!

    November 25, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  11. skarphace

    This issue is good for Gingrich for two main reasons:
    1) It distinguishes him from the rest of the Tea Party crowd and puts him in good position to be the ABR (Anybody But Romney), and
    2) It gains him votes from moderates and Independents who would have otherwise voted for Romney.

    Gingrich is a very good campaigner, and he thought this strategy out well. Will the Teapublicans vote for Romney? No. If Gingrich wins the nomination, will the Teapublicans vote for Obama over him? No way. Therefore, he knows he does not have to pander to their vote over Romney or Obama.

    All he has to do is beat out the other Tea Party candidates. Lucky for him, they all self destructed

    November 25, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  12. Loathstheright

    Newt – A slimy lizard. How can they run someone with this kind of background, immoral, unethical, corrupt, criminal....oh, forgot, Republican...that's their best traits.

    November 25, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  13. Marjee123

    Newt is so pumped up he thinks people are going to vote for him. Poor guy must be getting senile.

    November 25, 2011 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. kebcarerra

    If I robbed a grocery store twenty five years ago and have obeyed all the laws since then and now belong to a church and sing in the quire and do all kinds of good. Do you think that robbing the grocery store is not so bad because it was a long time ago? Americans can pick fruits and vegetables , clean houses , and do all those jobs I hear some say they won't do. One in three Americans are obese and don't get enough exercise anyway. Know what I'm sayin. If you are over 50 you can remember back in middle school and high school being able to go to the farms to pick fruit for money. People want to come here , I hope they can do it the legal way. I vote no to amnesty.

    November 25, 2011 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. Johnson

    Be careful Newt.......slick Romney is just waiting for you to implode!

    November 25, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  16. A disgusted former Republican

    The Lizard is just pandering for votes. He thinks Hispanics are stupid enough to vote for him.Won't he be surprised?

    November 25, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  17. Donald Lewis Law

    If everyone wants to turn back the clock and look at their ancestry they will find out we are all illigal when we cam to this country a fought the Indians and took land as far as you can ride in a day. So if we are all from that stock we all should try to make these people whom ever they are citizens of our country and make them abide by the laws of our today country. So I see no difference from our back history of this country or today people wanting to come to this part of the world. I think he has a good point if they want to live here and work her and pay taxes as everyone does today.

    November 25, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  18. Pablo

    When Newt and Perry show a little human compassion, they are chopped down by their party. The only compassion the neo-GOP has is for the unborn–once they're born, however, it's dog-eat-dog, and may the unfortunate die for all they care. Oh, and if they start preaching "survival of the fittest," remember that they don't believe in evolution, which is the key to survival.

    November 25, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  19. Coffeehead

    The hypocracy here is this; GOP'ers take this hard stance to appease thier base then when they get into office, the issue justs go's away. Just like abortion did during Buuush years.

    November 25, 2011 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  20. sensible

    Unfortunately, Newt, although you are trying to have a rational discussion about our country's immigration issues, the GOP base will never let this discussion occur.

    November 25, 2011 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  21. John Kantor

    The GOP is going to lose 2012 entirely because of this one issue. They can't win without moderates and Hispanics.

    November 25, 2011 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  22. sara

    Romney said Gingrich ad about what he said in 2007 on immigration was taken out of content. He totally lied in his Ad on the President. Sauce for goose....Sauce for the Gander, right Willard the used car salesman?

    November 25, 2011 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  23. Lenny Pincus

    Always interesting to watch wingers tap-dance. Newton must have felt pretty big in the britiches to let that one out. ow we get to watch him crash.

    November 25, 2011 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  24. Weliton

    Republican is happy to see that are separating families.
    All Republican candidates are a bunch of racist and fascist war maker is judt what USA need, another bush dressed as Adolf hitler

    November 25, 2011 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  25. GrOPer

    Perhaps the GOP strategists have realized that Newt Gingrich can't beat Obama, so they told him to torpedo his own campaign in order to position a different candidate as the leader.

    November 25, 2011 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
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