Asked by Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer what the Republicans did wrong in 2012 or should do differently going forward, Former Speaker of the House and 2012 candidate for the Republican nomination Newt Gingrich said “Republicans had better listen very carefully to Marco Rubio.” Senator Rubio has been an outspoken advocate for the Republican Party championing the cause of “legal immigration” and opening itself to amending rigid positions regarding what to do with illegal aliens already living on American soil.
Gingrich went on to say, “When I said as a candidate we’re not going to deport a grandmother if she’s been here 25 years, we had a nominee who said yes, we would, that she would self-deport. I think at that point we lost Asians, we lost Latinos. You can’t lose Asians, Latinos, African Americans and young people, and think you’re going to be competitive.”
Perhaps, because Rubio was one of the few that came to Gingrich’s defense during the primary when he suggested an alternative approach to deporting million of “illegals.” Considering the demographic analysis of November elections, Gingrich’s flirtation with a version of amnesty doesn’t look quite as “foolish” with the benefit of hindsight.
As to the illegal immigration side of this and his thoughts on Newt’s flirtation with another option to amnesty/deportation, I can’t say I’m all that surprised to hear Rubio’s not in the camp lambasting the Former Speaker for his “controversial” statements. Rubio’s a realist and a product of a state that has to deal with these issues in the context of the real world rather than the hypothetical/theoretical realm. In that regard, he comes from a situation not that dissimilar to that of Governor Perry. For folks in Iowa or New Hampshire, figuring out a workable solution to the 11 million “illegals” in this country may be as simple as calling for deportation; but for someone who comes from a place where a substantial portion of that number are entrenched among the “legal” population, the solutions seem less simple.
As to specifics, Rubio says he doesn’t believe Newt was talking about “amnesty”; but rather a “middle road accommodation” for people who have been in the country for a long time. He says that will have to be addressed at some point – we’re just not at that point. Rubio says we must first “win the confidence of the American People back” and that begins with Border Security. Then we must create a mechanism where employers are required to verify legal status that is cost-effective, safe, and efficient. Step three is creating a “legal immigration system” that works.
On number three there, Rubio says we need to “modernize” the legal immigration system, reform the visa program, and create a functional guest worker program. He says then we can begin taking a look at what to do with the 11 million people who are currently here illegally.
On the whole, I must say I’m in agreement with Senator Rubio here – and if we were to follow Rubio’s path – I’m in agreement with Gingrich as well. From where I sit, there’s no sense in spending months to years debating what to do with the illegals we have in this country before we figure out how to stop the in-flow. It’s pointless. That’s like trying to remodel the water-filled basement before figuring out how to stop the water from continuing to come in and flood the thing. Secure the border and then we’ll discuss the details of what to do with the human side of the problem. Practically speaking, what good does it do Republicans to spend the political capital holding firm to deportation at any cost when the very people we would aim to deport could simply be back in a fortnight? Save that fight for another day.
And let’s just be real about one thing for a moment – and this shouldn’t be so casually overlooked. How do we get 11 million people from here back to the country they came from and how much will that ultimately cost the American tax payer? Let’s just say for a minute that a fraction of them were all in one place. Let’s say 100,000 illegals were gathered in Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee. Anyone wanna share with me a plan for getting them back to Mexico? Bus, train, caravan? Where do we hold them until we can arrange for transport? Do we let them take their possessions or do we throw them in a van off the street and put them on a boat? Who becomes liable for their debts; their apartments; their children; their grandchildren? And that’s just 100,000 of them. Now give me an answer for 11 million – or more.
I guess what I’m saying here is this is yet another one of those times where I part ways with traditional Republican-conservative talking points kinda people. While, impulsively, I share many of the same feelings toward those who are here illegally, I simply fail to see a way to square said impulses with an actual plan for dealing with such a sizable body of people. I also fail to see how this is one of those issues where we as conservatives must “stand on principle.” What’s the principle we’re standing on? If we’re supposed to be the fiscally disciplined wing of American politics, how is eating the cost of airfare for 11 million people really going to further that objective?
Like I said above, I see the entire debate about what to do with them as a non-issue at this point in the conversation. Until the border is secure, the whole exercise is a complete waste of time – and money. When said border is sufficiently secure, we can begin to address the matter. And when that day comes, I do believe an alternative to deportation may be the only prudent option – in most cases. When the border is secure, we can begin a process of vetting and investigating these people (or at least the ones who voluntarily come forward); we can see if they have the desire to become legal American citizens; see if they’ve paid taxes; require them to do so if they have not; run background checks to make sure they aren’t wanted criminals elsewhere or have committed crimes here while here illegally; make them pay some sort of restitution for the base-crime they have committed (being here illegally); and then set our sights on the individuals who are here for whatever other nefarious reason they’ve chosen to come to our country and stay beyond the reach of its laws.
But until the border is secure, discussing how we’re going to rid ourselves of a group of people more than 100 times greater in size than the Saturday attendance at a Tennessee Volunteers football game. If you think half a stadium of college kids rushing the field after a victory is a potentially dangerous situation in the making; wait until you see 200 times that many people react when they realize they’re about to be ripped from their families and everything they own – and sent back to God knows where.
For video, skip ahead to the 13:00 mark.