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Amy Taylor

What Are the Candidates Saying About Immigration Reform? Newt Gingrich on Immigration.


Although he has not formed an official campaign or announced a formal run, the former speaker of the House and former Republican congressman from Georgia seems to be running for President. Well, sort of. Amidst public speculation about his run, Gingrich was quoted as saying "I am not 'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."

So he basically wants to be drafted by the people into office?!

Anyway, what does he think about immigration? So far it runs a pretty big gamut.

If Gingrich had his way, he would seal the border with Mexico, deport undocumented immigrants within 72 hours of their arrest at the border and prohibit judicial review of such cases. Where he differs from his conservative allies is in that he would expand avenues for legal immigration in order to reduce illegal immigration. The Washington Times reports Ginrich arguing that "we have to have a relatively open green-card policy to relieve pressure" from Mexico and elsewhere, as well as from U.S. firms seeking workers."

In an article he wrote laying out his ideas on immigration for the National Review, Newt Gingrich criticizes what he calls a dishonest immigration system created by our government's inability to enforce the laws, businesses profiting off of breaking the law and illegal immigrants lured here to break the law and what he calls a "slow, cumbersome, rude, heartless, and incompetent" immigration bureaucracy.

He makes the border issue an issue of national security. "Why have a multibillion-dollar ballistic-missile-defense system when a terrorist can rent a truck and drive a weapon of mass destruction across the border? Gaining control of our borders is therefore an immediate and pressing national-security requirement."

Gingrich writes in his National Review piece that "the current flood of illegal migration if left unchecked for a period of decades will decisively undermine the economy in both economic and legal terms" though he doesn't spell out too much about the economic impact of immigration in that article. He admonishes employers committing tax evasion by hiring undocumented workers yet he does not mention the lack of workplace rights as a cause for economic strain on Americans. Interestingly he does say that after "closing the borders" lawmakers should "work out the details of a humane, compassionate, and legitimate process of patriotic integration for people who were lured to America by an incompetent government and lawbreaking businesses and who do not deserve to bear the full brunt of popular anger at such dishonest and hypocritical policies."

Throughout the article he voices his concern that somehow for unstated reasons today's immigrants are different from past generations when it comes to their desire to learn English and integrate. In one paragraph he connects not speaking English to the concept of lawlessness quoting a USA Today poll saying that 85% of Americans believe that immigrants should be required to learn English in order to become citizens.

On that note, he wants to "establish patriotic integration and the primacy of English (English first, not English only) combined with a requirement that Americans can only vote in American elections and applicants for citizenship have to select where their loyalty is." He argues against language access saying "culturally we have shifted from an integrating, English-speaking American citizenship focused model of immigration to an acceptance of foreign habits (which are going to include corruption), foreign loyalties (illustrated by the waving of foreign flags by many of the marchers, some with attitudes of contempt) and the insistence (not necessarily by immigrants) on creating non-English speaking legal and educational structures."

He does not mention the fact that the overwhelming majority of immigrants do want to learn English but that there aren't enough ESL classes to meet the demand. As DMI Fellow Andrew Friedman mentioned in an op-ed, a report by the New York Immigration Coalition shows that over 90% of the need for English as a Second Language classes goes unmet.

To his credit he says he does not advocate for mass deportation, but rather to stop the incentive for illegal immigration. "If illegal jobs cannot be found, people will have no choice but to pursue legal means to employment." At the same time he wants local police to be able to act as immigration agents and ask people's immigration status.

On Fox speaking about guest workers Gingrich stated that for national security reasons America must recognize "the absolute need for a guest-worker program probably with a biometric, either a thumb print or iris scan..."

And these legal immigrants? How would they get in to the country? "Establish an outsourced worker visa program with a biometric identity card, a background check, and a 24/7 computerized real time verification capability so no business can claim ignorance. Permit businesses to send workers home to apply for their worker visa as a deductible business expense." He would allow the undocumented workers now here to apply for green cards, but would require they return home to do so. He believes expanding the green card program will also dry up demand for illegal workers. "We have to have, I think, a large green card program, a much bigger green card program than anybody's contemplating."

He is not currently in office however last Spring he called the McCain/Kennedy bill a " 'cave-in' that would establish amnesty for lawbreakers." Where will he come down on specific proposals now? We'll just have to wait and see.

To read other posts in this series click here.

Amy Taylor: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 7:17 AM, Mar 21, 2007 in Immigration | Politics
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