Newt Gingrich made a lot of sense on immigration in last night´s republican primary debate and by so doing, he may have briefly changed the conversation to a more realistic arena where the status quo of "enforcement only" that the party advocates can just been shown for what it is: empty and out of sync with both, American principles AND the economic interests of this country.
Gingrich has talked about this before but he´s now in a position to shake things up a bit because he is ahead in the polls. He has become the OTR candidate -Other Than Romney- at least temporarily and with this move last night he may have just thrown away any chance of winning, or maybe, just maybe, he may generate some interest in actually "thinking" a bit about this immigration thing that, so far, has just been used by the rest of the candidates as a scare tactic to seem oh so conservative and tough and "pro-American". Also, he may be doing republicans a favor, trying to save the Party from itself on immigration and losing the Latino vote for a generation or two -which they are close to achieving even though President Obama has been waging serious competition with them on "enforcement only" by his record of deportations and separation of families.
When Newt called the people in his party to check their beliefs in "family values" if they continue to advocate separation of families, others looked at him stunned. In the following video, Romney speaks right after Newt´s initial statement-which can´t be seen here-, gets a lackluster applause on his usual position and then Newt issues the challenge to his own party.
"I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who have been here a quarter century, who have children and grandchildren, who are members of the community, who may have done something 25 years ago, separate them from their families, and expel them.
I don't see how the party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century. And I'm prepared to take the heat for saying, let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families"
The other candidates seemed quite stunned by the fact that one of them had actually turned the orthodoxy of the Party upside down and was advocating for a solution other than "secure the border first" and for a policy that actually follows the empty statement "we are for legal immigration", stuff that sounds absolutely great but that solves nothing because illegal immigration is a complicated situation that has actually been made worse by the "enforcement only" strategy of the last 15 years.
To make something clear, Gingrich did not advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, but "some kind of legality" for people who´ve been here for a long time and have family ties and surely that won´t satisfy the advocates for full reform, but for the republican field, it is a big challenge to even speak of "some" legality for people who came here without authorization in the first place.
Of course, others spoke after him and repeated everything they´ve said before about "amnesty", "illegals", "bad", "we love legals" and other cookie cutter statements that have nothing new to add to the current broken policy. Particularly uninspiring was the statement by Mitt Romney, the presumed favorite for the nomination:
"That will only encourage more people to do the same thing. People respond to incentives. If you could become a permanent resident of the United States by coming here illegally, you'll do so. what i want to do is to bring people into this country legally, particularly those who are educated and have the skills to compete globally"
Romney, who was for immigration reform before he was against it did not bring anything new to the table with this statement. But Newt Gingrich did. Newt is not crazy to say this things. He might know that he´s not going to become the nominee. A national poll`s first place at this time -after everybody else including Donald Trump who never entered the race has polled first- does not a nominee make. You need to win in several states, to have the organization to do it, and Newt Gingrich just doesn´t have that. But this was a Heritage Foundation sponsored debate, and the idea that the current immigration system is harming small and bigger businesses and that in the long run the broken system will further harm the economy is a concept that is talked about in some conservative circles.
Gingrich quoted during the debate the "Red Card Solution" advocated by the Krieble Foundation, an institution that was founded by Helen Krieble, the daughter of one of the founders of the Heritage Foundation. She and other conservatives have been advocating a way of allowing needed workers to get in legally in an orderly way as the needs of the country grow or diminish as they do. It´s all explained in the video you can see if you visit this page. And you´ll see some prominent conservatives, including congressman Mike Pence, republican from Indiana, talking about the need to create legal avenues for workers or the US economy will suffer further and other jobs will be lost.
The former Speaker of the House, who also believes in stuff like "English as the official language of the country", at the same time he has a bilingual news site called The Americano and has a Twitter feed in Spanish is a complex guy who actually uses his brain. He must have something he wants to achieve with this and I think he just took the first step. Maybe he´s planning a book about it or maybe he just wants to shake republicans from their illusion that they actually have a political future without the Latino vote.