On Saturday, GOP Presidential Hopeful Newt Gingrich held a two-hour town hall meeting with a group of veterans in Wolfeboro, N.H. A member of the crowd asked Gingrich, not about his position on immigration, but for the specific details of his policy should he be elected president. Typical of Gingrich, he laid out a 7-point policy plan for reforming immigration, earning enthusiastic applause on most of his points. But there was one of those 7 points that received more of a frosty reception from the few hundred in attendance.
When it comes to immigration, most of Gingrich's views are pretty similar to his his GOP competitors. But on the question of how to handle the 11 million illegal aliens currently in the United States, his views more closely match President Obama's.
After outlining 6 of his 7 policy steps to dealing with immigration during Saturday's town hall, Gingrich explained, in full detail, his plan to offer residency to illegal aliens who have deep ties to the United States.
What do you do with the ones who have been here for 25 years? They're a member of the community, they've been working hard, they've been paying their bills, they're married, they have kids, they have grandkids, they may belong to your church.
Do you really think the American people are going to send the police in and take some grandmother out or some grandfather out?
A friend of mine told me a story of a Marine in Afghanistan who had a grandmother getting deported. What do you do there?
You take the World War II selective service model, which is a local county board. You create a citizen review board. You can only apply if you've been here for a very long time, you have genuine ties to the community, if you've been paying your bills, have been a member of the community for a long time, and if you can get an American family to sponsor you. If you meet that standard, you go before the review board. If the review board thinks you are a significant member of the community, you'll get a certificate of residence, but not citizenship. But you're now here legally.
You can get a job and get on with the rest of your life. If you then want citizenship, you have to go home long enough to apply.
-- Newt Gingrich, Jan. 7, 2012, Wolfeboro, N.H. Town Hall
The response to his amnesty plan was similar to the one he received from New Hampshire voters on Tuesday -- a fourth place finish in the nation's first primary and less than 10% of the vote.
Through past blogs and webcasts, we've discussed all the reasons why Gingrich's plan is unworkable. He says it only applies to illegal aliens who have been here for 25 years or more. Does that mean that someone who's been here illegally for 24 years and 11 months doesn't qualify? He's said that citizen boards would decide the fate of these individuals. But would citizen boards in a sanctuary county like Montgomery County Maryland have the same standards as one in neighboring Frederick County which participates in the Department of Homeland Security's 287(g) program? The list of questions goes on and on.
It's also possible that the crowd of veterans just got tired of emphatically clapping for the first points of his immigration plan.
You pass a law that says we are waiving all federal regulations to control the border, so you don't go through EPA studies and all this other stuff. You just do it. Two, there are 200,000 Department of Homeland Security workers in the Washington area. I'm prepared to move half of them to Texas, Arizona, New Mexico to give you the man power to control the border. (applause) . . .
The next step I would take is to make English the official language. (applause) . . .
I would increase the requirements to become an American citizen in terms of learning American history, so that people would learn what it means to be an American, and candidly, I would do the same for American high school students. (applause) . . .
I would make it much easier to deport people that shouldn't be here. So if you're the member of an MS-13 gang in one of 65 cities, we should be able to get rid of you in two weeks. It shouldn't take two years. You're not an American citizen and don't deserve all those protections, so good-bye. (applause) . . .
After detailing his immigration policy, Gingrich took shots at some of the other candidates in the GOP field who have differing plans and wondered how their plans would play in states with higher immigrant populations. What former House Speaker Gingrich fails to recognize, however, is the impact the economic downturn has had on immigrant communities. While the national unemployment rate dropped a bit in December, the rate for Hispanic Americans remains at 11%. And while the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't seasonally adjust the unemployment rates for Asian Americans, the not seasonally adjusted rate increased from 6.5% to 6.8% in December. (The seasonally adjusted rate is typically 10-20% higher than the not seasonally adjusted rate).
As quoted above, Gingrich offers some good ideas to addressing the nation's immigration problems, but he still has a D-minus on his Presidential Grade Card. He's endorsed Sen. Chuck Grassley's mandatory E-Verify bill that's been offered in the Senate, he is committed to securing the border and punishing businesses that hire illegal workers, and he's criticized the Justice Department's decision to sue states that pass immigration enforcement laws.
But Gingrich's amnesty plan for some illegal aliens and his desire to create a widespread guest worker problem doesn't bode well for the 22 million American's who can't get a full-time job. As our television ad now running in South Carolina asks the Presidential Hopefuls, "Who should get the next U.S. job: an unemployed American or a future immigrant?", Gingrich appears to have made his choice. And it didn't sit well with the voters in New Hampshire.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Oct 2nd 2017 @ 3:19pm EDT