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Newt ’06: I Don’t Think We Should Deport Anyone

Morgen on February 1, 2012 at 6:27 am

That’s the headline, but Newt was responding to a question about birthright citizenship. Many of you will probably like what he had to say on that question, at least. Watch:

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This is newsworthy on both counts. Gingrich has yet to express a position on birthright citizenship throughout the course of the current campaign. Given his concerted effort to court the Hispanic vote as the most “humane” Republican in the race, it’s easy to see why he has not been eager to share his past views on this particular subject. (At least he hasn’t contradicted himself.)

Likewise, even though Gingrich has intentionally staked out a position on immigration to the left of the other candidates, he hasn’t come close to saying what he does in this clip – that he isn’t in favor of deporting anyone. What he has said, consistently, is that some sort of exception should be made for illegal immigrants with deep roots in the community, who have lived here for 25 years or longer. (And grandmothers, of course, because Americans will never support deporting Grandma.)

His idea, daft as it is, is that community review boards will make the determination of which illegal residents are eligible for this “exception” (don’t call it amnesty), which presumably means that everyone else will be subject to deportation. This is the conventional view of Newt’s stance on immigration, but don’t take my word for it.

The most interesting part of the night was on the issue of immigration where Newt staked out a middle ground on immigration — control the border now, implement employer sanctions, and after the door is as shut as it can be, set up rules as to who can stay with many if not most deported but with humanitarian exceptions.

And Newt himself:

We need a path to legality, but not citizenship, for some of these individuals who have deep ties to America, including family, church and community ties. We also need a path to swift but dignified repatriation for those who are transient and have no roots in America.

So it’s a clear flip-flop, which is not all that shocking after six years and on this issue in particular. The risk for the Gingrich campaign is that it will reinforce the view shared by many conservatives that he really doesn’t want to deport anyone, even now. That his community review board proposal is really just a means to punt on this issue.

But then his opposition to birthright citizenship, if reaffirmed by Gingrich, will be welcome news to many GOP voters. But will it hurt him with the Hispanic community more than it helps with conservatives? Hard to say, but one way or another I expect the Gingrich camp will have to address the questions raised by this clip.

Lastly, I encourage you to read through Gingrich’s entire presentation from April 2006, somewhat ironically titled: Ending the Dishonesty: The Way Forward on Border Control and Patriotic Immigration. On immigration Gingrich may be to the left of everyone else in the current race, but in 2006 he was strongly opposed to the Bush/McCain immigration plan and he actually had some good alternative ideas. But opposing the idea of deporting anyone was not one of them.

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Category: Immigration |

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