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    Abbott and Costello on Immigration

    Abbott and Costello on Immigration

    Last night Newt Gingrich addressed the issue of whether to deport people who are in the country illegally but have deep roots in the community over long periods of time.  The issue of deportation is quite distinct from a so-called “pathway to citizenship.”

    The Romney campaign immediately came out of the debate insisting that Gingrich was in favor of “amnesty” for 10 million people, which led to this exchange bewteen Philip Klein of The Washington Examiner and Romney campaign chief Eric Fehrnstrom (added, the audio is here):

    I followed up by asking Fehrnstrom whether Romney believed in deporting those immigrants who are already here illegally.

    “[Romney] doesn’t believe in granting them amnesty,” Fehrnstrom responded.

    That started a back and forth exchange worthy of Abbott and Costello, as Fehrnstrom kept continuing to drive the “no amnesty” point home, and I tried to get more details.

    I followed up again, asking what “no amnesty” would mean for the people already here.

    “Well, first, you have to get turn off the magnets to get them to stop coming.”

    Again, I asked about those already here.

    “He would not grant them amnesty,” Fehrnstrom said.

    “But what would he do with them?” I asked.

    He reiterated, “He would not grant them amnesty.”

    I asked again, “But what would he do?”

    “I just told you, he’s not going to grant them amnesty,” he said.

    Again, I said, “That’s not an answer, that’s telling me what he won’t do. What would he do?

    “He would not grant them amnesty,” he repeated.

    There is no depth to Romney’s immigration position, and no nuance.  There is a world of difference between an amnesty which makes people here illegally citizens on some path other than the back of the line, and a deportation policy.

    Even Paul Begala gets that Newt’s position not only is not amnesty, it is far short of Obama’s position:

    I suspect that on careful examination we will learn that what Gingrich actually supports is a netherworld for immigrant workers—neither full citizenship nor subject to deportation. That is far from the DREAM Act—more like a dream come true for any employer seeking cheap labor.

    Superficial talking points will not cut it.  Hopefully we figure that out before it’s too late.

    Update:  Rush just played an audio of Romney in 2007 proposing citizenship for illegal aliens, a position which Ruch noted goes far beyond what Newt said last night.  If I can get the audio, I’ll post it.

    Okay, here it is:

    And, Andrew McCarthy on what Newt said:

    That’s not amnesty. It’s common sense. It would also be a vast improvement over Obama immigration policy. I don’t understand what the hubbub is about.


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    Kerrvillian | November 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    It is too late, already.

    One thing I will say. The more Romney proclaims that he will not support amnesty the more I am sure that he would.

    Once more I must advocate that we need to focus on getting conservatives into Congress. The Presidential race will be a sideshow if we can get conservatives who are willing to use the power of the purse.

    If you don’t like Mitt’s position on an issue, wait a week.

    oh- and does LI get $ for click throughs to Grayson’s site. I’ve been pre-emptively clicking the snot out of them.

      William A. Jacobson in reply to Andy. | November 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      It’s not a direct per click relationship, but it does figure into the mysterious Google algorithm which calculates how much I get paid per page view (which is not much, but every penny helps).

    They figure Immigration killed Perry, it will kill Newt. Newt’s and Perry’s position aren’t even an inch in part in practicality. People here illegally will stay here illegally on either plan. You can’t really tell when someone came here, so who is to say when anyone arrived? So in effect whether you call it amnesty or not is immaterial, a nuanced position with will have no difference.

    Overall the issue isn’t even immigration, the issue is that we give away too much stuff for free. If you have a large entitlement sector, you can bring in poor low productivity people. If everyone has to carry their own weight, then as Milton Friedman said, you can come and go as you please, because your ability to produce will be a net benefit for society. The more workers, the more wealth.

    By the way I support Newt and I don’t care about immigration as an issue this election cycle.

      JEBurke in reply to imfine. | November 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      Not quite so. A large percentage of illegals arrived on tourist, student or other visas and simply never left (or at least did not leave in the past 10 years when we have been more strict). For that matter, many came from countries which have reciprocal agreements with thd US allowing travel to the US without visas.

      Most such people passed through ports where their entry was documented.

      Then, there are the people who sneaked or were smuggled across the Mexican border

        imfine in reply to JEBurke. | November 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm

        Most of the people here illegally ran across the southern border. Overstays or those who have faulted on their visa’s are a distant 2nd. either way, this distinction is irrelevant to the point I made. Spending is the issue driving all the major issues including immigration.

      Aarradin in reply to imfine. | November 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm

      So, why shouldn’t Romney’s position on immigration destroy his candidacy? He’s come out in favor of citizenship for illegals – which is Amnesty (even though now his advisor is saying he wouldn’t give them amnesty). Romney also employs illegals on his own property.

      Newt’s a squish on immigration. Romney’s worse. You’re saying Newt’s position should disqualify him, which would leave us with Romney.

      Its not like any of the other candidates are any better, btw. Unless we get someone with Tom Tancredo’s position on immigration, maybe we should refrain from using it as a litmus test. Far too many of the top R’s are either in favor of some form of back-door amnesty. Nearly all the top R’s are opposed to deportation. This puts them at odds with the majority of Americans, and at odds with the vast majority of their Party.

        imfine in reply to Aarradin. | November 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

        I didn’t say it would kill Newt, and Romney’s position is simply no amnesty. Its not even a policy. I am just saying, looking from Michelle Bachman’s position, its the only arrow in her quiver to kill Newt, same for Romney. It doesn’t mean functionally their policy of a nationwide dragnet for illegals will never happen.

        Newt is trying to earn the nomination by showing people he has ideas, policies and experience are worth voting for. The others are simply trying to win by bring the last man standing, aside from Cain though. I think this unqiely positions Newt to withstand the Amnesty charge and win the nomination because he above the rest is truly capable of discharging the office of President of the United States.

    SmokeVanThorn | November 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I’m asking this question in good faith: how is Gingrich’s position different from amnesty?

      JayDick in reply to SmokeVanThorn. | November 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      What you call it depends on how you define amnesty. Seems to me you might reasonably call Gingrich’s position a very limited form of amnesty. However, if you say that amnesty involves complete forgiveness of a transgression (coming here illegally in this case) with no penalty, Gingrich does not espouse amnesty. He proposes that the illegal aliens who are allowed to stay never be allowed to become citizens. That is a penalty of sorts, but not a severe one compared to deportation.

      Whatever you call it, I find Gingrich’s position quite reasonable and one that could be effectively sustained against the liberal attacks that will come during the general election campaign. Romney’s position seems extreme and apparently opposite of what he proposed before.

        SmokeVanThorn in reply to JayDick. | November 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm


        It seems that Gingrich he is proposing a a selective, rather than a blanket, amnesty. One might argue that denying something to which a person is not entitled is not a penalty, but I think your observation that denying citizenship is not a severe penalty compared to deportation is a fair one.

        Aarradin in reply to JayDick. | November 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

        What about their children? Under the 14th Amendment, children born in the US of non-citizens are NOT citizens.

        If we were to institutionalize Newt’s approach, we would be creating a permanent underclass of legally resident aliens. This is only slightly different than what we have now – a permanent underclass of illegallly resident aliens.

        The problem is: none of the candidates have the political courage to take a stand. You can:
        1) Enforce the laws already on the books. Most illegals would deport themselves. This is called ‘attrition through enforcement’. The rest would be physically deported.
        2) Amnesty. Or, as the R’s like to hedge, ‘provide a path to citizenship’. This rewards everyone that came here illegally while penalizing those that tried to go through the process legally (anyone granted citizenship counts against the quota for their home country, so their fellow citizens trying to emigrate legally get screwed). Reagan passed an Amnesty. It led to a flood of new illegals. They know full well that if they come here illegally they will eventually be granted citizenship.
        3) Do nothing. This is the coward’s way. Its also the least politically toxic. Some voters will vote against any candidate in favor of deportation, most voters will vote against any candidate in favor of amnesty. So, if you have an election coming up, you hedge and take a vague middle road while denying you favor either deportation or amnesty. The result is a perpetual underclass if resident illegal aliens.

        It’d be nice if we had a candidate that really believed in #1, but was wise enough to shut up about it until in office. Unfortunately, all the R’s in the running for the nomination firmly believe either #3 or, in a few libertarian cases, #2.

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