In one of the last GOP presidential debates, Newt Gingrich said, “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’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.” He repeated his stance in the following debate.
Now, at face value that seems to be rather a balanced and empathetic approach to the very difficult question of what to do with illegal aliens who have been in this country for a long time. As Newt and his campaign explain, his position is to find a way to give these people some sort of permanent legal status while not making them citizens. It reminds me of Rick Perry’s compassionate “Waterloo” statement that basically brought his campaign to a permanent halt when he decried that people were somehow “heartless” if they did not agree with giving taxpayer funded tuition to children of illegals.
Newt Gingrich has also been quoted as saying, “Residency is very different than citizenship.”
So Newt’s idea is that making illegal aliens permanently legal and allowing them to stay is totally different than giving them amnesty and or citizenship.
Hmmmmmmmmmm, I suppose for this one we ought to consult the master of semantics himself, Former President Bill Clinton. I imagine that Clinton would give a long rant on how amnesty is totally unlike permanent legal status just like it all depended on what the definition of “is” is back in his glory days.
To any thinking person, it seems clear that there is no real difference between the two terms other than semantics and campaign spin. What no one seems willing to mention is that most illegals don’t give half a peso as to whether they ever get citizenship or not. They didn’t come here to get to vote or to get the few other benefits that come with being a citizen. I’m sure that most of them would be well pleased to become citizens if offered the opportunity, but when they crawled under a fence or crammed into a storage container or the trunk of a car to get here, I think it’s certain that all they cared about was getting to the United States and then getting to stay. Most people who have come to the U.S. illegally have never experienced what it is to truly be a citizen of their home countries. A great deal of the motivation to illegally immigrate is because they have little to no quality of life in their home country. All most of them want is to be able to have a job and to be able to send some of their money back to their family at home. (Which is of course a drain on our economy, but I digress.) Most illegals are happy to stay far under the radar. Their goal is to stay in the U.S. regardless of a label denoting legal status. Allowing illegals to stay is a reward to them for coming and incentivises more and more to come.
If this were the first time that Newt had been a little wishy-washy over the illegal immigration issue, it would be one thing, but he has a long track record of not holding the conservative line on the issue. In fact, Numbers USA – the leading group who tracks and rates politicians on this Immigration gives Gingrich a D
So I have come to the conclusion that regardless of whether it’s citizenship via amnesty, or just getting to stay via permanent legal status, there’s no substantive difference between the two.
Though I disagree with Newt on his position here, what really bothers me the most is his dishonesty in trying to hide behind the semantics.
Mr. Gingrich, amnesty is amnesty, and Mr. Clinton, is is is.