That Was Bold… Newt Gingrich Pushes Amnesty Plan at CNN GOP Debate (Video)

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich took a bold turn during the CNN GOP National Security Debate tonight and pushed amnesty for illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for several years.

Here is the exchange, via CNN transcripts:

WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Speaker Gingrich, let me let you broaden out this conversation. Back in the ’80s — and you remember this well. I was covering you then. Ronald Reagan and you — you voted for legislation that had a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as you well remember. There were, what, maybe 12 million, 10 million — 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States right now.

Some called it amnesty then; they still call it amnesty now. What would you do if you were President of the United States, with these millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom have been in this country for a long time?

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me start and just say I think that we ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science and engineering so that people stay here.


GINGRICH: You know, about five blocks down the street, you’ll see a statue of Einstein. Einstein came here as an immigrant. So let’s be clear how much the United States has drawn upon the world to be richer, better and more inclusive.

I did vote for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Ronald Reagan, in his diary, says he signed it — and we were supposed to have 300,000 people get amnesty. There were 3 million. But he signed it because we were going to get two things in return. We were going to get control of the border and we were going to get a guest worker program with employer enforcement.

We got neither. So I think you’ve got to deal with this as a comprehensive approach that starts with controlling the border, as the governor said. I believe ultimately you have to find some system — once you’ve put every piece in place, which includes the guest worker program, you need something like a World War II Selective Service Board that, frankly, reviews the people who are here. If you’re here — if you’ve come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. period. If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.

The Creeble Foundation is a very good red card program that says you get to be legal, but you don’t get a pass to citizenship. And so there’s a way to ultimately end up with a country where there’s no more illegality, but you haven’t automatically given amnesty to anyone.

More… Newt is prepared to take the heat with talk of amnesty.

Update: Here is Newt’s immigration plan:

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  • jmar

    He just lost one vote

  • Andre M

    Newt is really sharp, he made alot of sense and is not pushing amnesty. Lets be honest here.

  • dmandman

    All Newt said was he just did not want to pack some US citizen’s Mamacita or Papacita into a cattle car to be dumped south of the border. He specifically said if they were recent and had no US Citizens as descendants to take responsibility…they were gone.

  • Reno_Dave

    Not “several years”, but many years. He was talking about a situation where you had someone who had been here since shortly after the 1986 amnesty (20 – 25 years) and who had children, and possibly grandchildren born in the U.S.

    You might be looking at someone in his or her late 40s who had an extended family of legal U.S. citizens. You would be sending Grandma or Grandpa back to Mexico, leaving the rest of the family here, because they were all legal.

    That strikes me as a very small subset of the illegal immigrant population.

    OTOH, I would have no problem sending back a young illegal alien couple, even if their 2-year-old was born in the U.S. Plenty of legal immigrants have returned to their home countries over the years, taking their U.S. born kids with them. The kids can decide on their own to return when they’re adults.

  • Ecosse

    many are tossing around the “amnesty” term rather loosely. amnesty is when someone who has committed a crime is absolved of guilt. what i take gingrich as advocating is more of a pardon, provided you have contributed to the country, and are not a threat to the country. the distinction is important.

    i am favorable to this only IF the borders are truly secure and the existing immigration laws are improved and enforced. current laws are not only lax but are truly schizophrenic in nature.

  • Kermit

    Yeah! I am a career criminal. Thank you Newt for the big grab-bag of goodies…

    All Newt said was he just did not want to pack some US citizen’s Mamacita or Papacita into a cattle car to be dumped south of the border.

    No, they should be put into prison camps to work hard labor year-for-year. But I would give them amnesty – get out before you get picked up.

    20% of Americans have no jobs, including many near and dear to me.

    Bye-Bye Newt.

  • Sisenor

    Yaaay for anchor babies! There’s nothing special about being an American anyway, right Newt?

  • Reno_Dave

    And BTW, he was talking about issuing “Red Cards” to those long-term, extended family illegals. The cards would allow them to legally stay, but they could not become citizens, as could someone with a “Green Card”.

    He would also like to see a guest worker program. I don’t have a problem with that, as long as it’s only for seasonal work, and the workers return to their home countries.

  • henrick

    And watch him drop in the polls. His idea isn’t realistic. The standard for proving those “living in the shadows” had been doing so for 25 years, or whatever period, would be a joke. Suddenly there’d be 12 million+ illegals claiming they’ve been here that long, backed up by the expected witness affidavits and various phony records. Try to prove someone who uses half a dozen different names is lying about their whereabouts for the past two decades.

  • bg
  • Reno_Dave

    I don’t think he was talking about anchor babies, but anchor adult children, who also have their own children.

  • Sarge

    Bottom line, I think Newt just took a chunk of the Hispanic block that would have gone to Obama.

  • Kermit

    He would also like to see a guest worker program. I don’t have a problem with that, as long as it’s only for seasonal work, and the workers return to their home countries.

    Not new. That visa already exists.


    Adios, Newt! Vaya a Mexico!

  • Freddy

    Newt said NOTHING that he has not stated in previous debates.

    I wonder why Hoft put such a slanted headline on this post?

  • Mad Hatter

    Watch the video from the 1:30 mark on forward, and listen carefully.

  • ironbill

    Okay Santorum, it’s your turn.

  • Reno_Dave

    “Not new. That visa already exists.”

    I’m talking about something like the old Bracero program, that ran from 1942 to 1964, which limited the number of workers per year, and provided a structure:

  • ChillytheAlaskan

    He is now last on my list, behind Huntsman. Romney sounds much better than Gingrich, and doesn’t have all the baggage. Funny thing too, I trust Romney more.

  • jony101

    scratch another candidate off the list. Deport them all, or let everyone in. The way this country is going it will be a muslim country just like obama said it was.