GOP Candidates Still Don’t Realize Amnesty is the Only Solution to Illegal Immigration
Posted by Enrique on 11.30.2011
Dear reader, have you been following these Republican presidential debates? They seem to happen every other week. As far as I can tell, the only thing these numerous debates have established is that Barack Obama might actually be the best qualified candidate in next year's election. Christ.
There was a little bit of "news" to come out of the last debate – apparently Newt Gingrich said he doesn't necessarily favor mass deportation of illegal immigrants. As you can imagine, that's kinda sorta a controversial stance in a GOP primary. For our story this week, let's have a look at Gingrich's immigration policy, and remind ourselves that the only sensible way to address undocumented workers is through amnesty (because "amnesty" is just another way of saying "not mass deportation").
The story so far…
Artist's rendering of GOP immigration policy
If you haven't been following the GOP presidential race closely – and why the hell would you? – you may not be aware the current frontrunner is Newt goddamn Gingrich. I'm sorry, too.
As with every leading GOP candidate before him, it was Gingrich's turn to commit some embarrassing gaffe. At the most recent Republican debate, the issue of illegal immigration came up. During this discussion, Gingrich took the insanely controversial stance that undocumented persons who have been in the U.S. for 25 years and have families and attend church regularly should not necessarily be deported. I'm as shocked as you.
Here's video of Gingrich's faux pas, along with Michelle Bachmann pretending to be a thoughtful human being. It's not terribly interesting, but if you're up feeling morally superior, you could do a lot worse.
It's noteworthy that even in his tepid argument against deporting manifestly harmless people, at no point does Gingrich suggest these folks should be given a path to citizenship. He is merely saying that in the extremely narrow circumstance of someone having been here for 25 years who poses no threat to anyone – hey, maybe we should give them a legal status other than citizenship. Gingrich is very clearly saying that no matter what, these folks should not be able to vote.
This is what Republican presidential candidates call "amnesty." That's not the definition in the dictionary, of course, but it certainly seems to be what perennial second choice Mitt Romney thinks it means:
"My view is that people who come here illegally should not have a special break or a special pathway to become permanent residents or citizens of this country," Romney said, speaking at a campaign stop at Nationwide Insurance in downtown Des Moines. "They should be in line or at the back of the line with other people who want to come here illegally."
But when asked if he'd draw a distinction between illegals who have recently arrived in the country and a family with community ties who have been living in the country illegally for 25 years – an example cited by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich during Tuesday night's GOP debate – Romney said it would be a "mistake" for the Republican Party to "try and describe which people who have come here illegally should be given amnesty to be able to jump ahead of the line of the people who have been waiting in line."
Further pressed on whether he thinks Gingrich's remarks qualify as amnesty, Romney said "it certainly was."
Based on the way these clowns use the term "amnesty," one might think Republicans believe it means anything short of deportation. To reiterate, Gingrich doesn't even want nonthreatening illegal immigrants who have been here for 25 years to be citizens. That's a funny definition of amnesty (not "ha-ha" funny).
To make sure that everyone doesn't think he's soft on securing our borders, Gingrich outlined a seven-step plan to deal with illegal immigration at campaign event earlier this week in South Carolina. It's apparently a slimmed down version of the ten-step immigration plan on Gingrich's official website. Fair enough, I'm all for politicians doing less. Here is a brief summary of the seven-point version, and why most of it is very silly.
Build a fence along the Mexican border. There are already areas of the border with a fence that illegal immigrants simply climb over or cut through. Republicans usually criticize government projects for being expensive and ineffective. The border fence project has already failed, and there's no reason to believe spending more money on it will make it work.
Make English the official language of the country. English already is the de facto official language, which doesn't prevent Spanish speakers from holding jobs and going about their business. If you're the type of person who gets unreasonably mad at having to press 1 for English when you call customer service, I suppose this symbolic and utterly meaningless promise is directed at you.
"Establish an understanding of American history as it relates to citizenship and we apply to it the children living here." I don't know what this means, but I wouldn't be surprised if a history book written by Gingrich had a chapter entitled "The Native Americans Shouldn't Have Been Standing There."
Revise the current visa system. Gingrich wants to make it faster and less expensive for tourists, workers, and students to obtain visas. Surprisingly, this makes sense, and I double-checked it on Gingrich's website to make sure I hadn't read it wrong. But why stop at visas? If you make immigration and citizenship easy and convenient, people won't bother to break the law. Republicans are supposedly in favor of deregulation. Deregulation would essentially eliminate illegal immigration. The easiest way to stop people from breaking the law is to change the law.
Make deportation easier. If you make immigration easier instead, it would go a long way toward reducing deportations, since you obviously don't need to deport people who are here legally.
Reform the current guest worker program. Again, if you make immigration overall easier, you don't have to worry about guest workers – just make it easy for them to become citizens.
Let illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for decades stay. AMNESTY!!!
Even though the standard GOP talking points on immigration are unrealistic and tiresome, the good news is that they may be on their way out. Despite the Republican base's reputation for unreasonable nativism, there is reason to believe the right's view on immigration is shifting. According to a NYT/CBS poll on immigration from last year, a majority of Republican respondents said illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S., and 31% even supported a path to citizenship.
If a majority of GOP voters are in favor of "amnesty," hopefully it won't be long before their candidates realize amnesty is the only way to deal with illegal immigration. Too bad it won't be this election cycle.