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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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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.

    I R A Darth Aggie in reply to Andy. | November 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    What? that long?? I was under the impression that Willard flips and flops like a fish out of water. Am I wrong??

      come on, you know mitts real name isn’t willard….its mittlard.
      so when he proclaims both are his real first name he can always be 1/2 right….like everything else with him.

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.

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

    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.

        imfine in reply to Aarradin. | November 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm

        Under the current prevailing interpretation of the 14th, just being born here is enough, no matter how ridiculous the interpretation is.

I wish someone would shift the terms of this debate away from the sheer numbers of illegal immigrants and their presumptive “lawbreaking” to make a distinction between immigrants we would like to have and those we don’t. Newt may have taken a step in this direction by suggesting that we should have some kind of draft-board-style review of individual cases to establish who can stay and who should be deported, even as we effectively close the border to new illegals.

Let’s face it. Most Americans do not especially want to deport some guy who came here from Korea on a tourist visa 20 years ago a never left but married, opened a greengrocery, worked hard, and raised children here. Technically, he is as much a “lawbreaker” as the guy who paid someone to smuggle him across the Arizona border last year and disappeared into South LA where he joined a street gang.

Just because there are 11 million illegals, it is not impossible to make such distinctions, as the pro- amnesty crowd would have it. Newt may have offered a way to do it.

    JayDick in reply to JEBurke. | November 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    You have raised a long-ignored issue that I think is very important: which immigrants do we want and which do we not want. Right now, families of people already here (legally) have high priority. But this includes some fairly distant relatives. That should stop; only immediate families should have priority (spouses, minor children).

    We need more highly educated immigrants to help our economy grow. We probably don’t need many more uneducated people who can only do manual labor.

More myopic listening from the professor. Rush was not complementary towards Newt’s amnesty plan either. Indeed he views his proposal as a slippery slope to amnesty, as do I.

In fact, as with most of the hair-brained ideas Newt has, it is all in the implementation. Does anyone seriously believe the government is going to do a household-to-household analysis of each family to determine whether they meet the criteria Newt laid out (a family illegally in the US for 25 years?)? What happens to the family that has illegally been in the US for 24 years and 11 months?

Newt’s proposal was entirely political. He is trying to sway some of Mitt’s constituents because he believes he has all the support he can garner from the center-right. It is not a serious proposal on governance.

    Midwest Rhino (not RINO) in reply to mdw9661. | November 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    If government can’t do something like that, what CAN they do? They barely kick out the illegals that they catch doing crimes.

    There might be a one year period for illegals to sign up locally, and be reviewed. They could show residence, church membership, job record, etc. They’d need some local references from citizens. Any not signed up in that year are out.

    Processing could take longer. Some would never sign up. I don’t know what happens in the big cities, which might be nearly dominant with illegals … but it seems a more realistic approach than kicking them all out by some undefined process. They can’t even kick out ones that are reported as it is.

    The hard core “hunt them all down and forcibly drag them out” seems less realistic, and more raw political rhetoric.

      “The hard core “hunt them all down and forcibly drag them out” seems less realistic, and more raw political rhetoric.”

      Its not like we haven’t done it before, with great success. Look up “Operation Wetback”, during the Eisenhower administration.

      What’s lacking is the political will, not the ability to actually enforce the law.

      If the feds simply started enforcing the laws already on the books, most illegals would leave on their own. Even under operation wetback, 10x more illegals are believed to have left on their own than were physically deported. We saw the same thing last year when AZ passed its immigration law, and are seeing the same thing now in Alabama.

      Its called ‘attrition through enforcement’. If you are actively trying to enforce laws that make it difficult for illegals to find work or a place to live, or difficult for them to travel, they leave. Of course, some will just go to another State that isn’t enforcing the laws, but many return to their home country. If the feds were to enforce these laws, rather than the states, more would leave the country.

        Midwest Rhino (not RINO) in reply to Aarradin. | November 23, 2011 at 4:33 pm

        yeah, I think we could just enforce SS ID’s and cut way back on illegal workers. We should make the legal path in easier, for those we need and want here.

        But as for political will, Newt’s chance for some to sign up for legal residency with limited benefits seems like a reasonable compromise. Those arguing for amnesty claim most illegals are pure, so fine, give them the chance to “come out of the shadows” and ID, tax and fine them. No Medicaid or school unless they sign up? Maybe 10% would sign up and pass the local review, and they’d have to have a tax paying job.

        This seems prudent for the presidential campaign … any real action would need congress.

        Combine this with easier path to citizenship for those that play by the rules, if they qualify AND we need them.

          The federal govt estimates that somewhere around 30% of illegals are on welfare.

          Seems to me, a good place to start would simply be for the federal government to go through medicaid, medicare, social security, food stamps, welfare, schip, etc, etc, and weed out anyone that’s not a citizen. The law already requires you to be a citizen to be eligible, they just refuse to check at any point in the process. So, start your attritition through enforcement by detaching illegals from the govt teat.

      You’re part right. Government can’t do something like this. The Reagan plan granted blanket amnesty to 2 million illegals under the pretense that it would be a one-off curtailment of illegal immigration. The result: we now have 20 million plus illegals.

      In a practical sense, as Limbaugh pointed out, what happens when a family living illegally in the US for 24 years, 11 months comes before this “community board?” How about 19 years or 11 years?

      The entire proposal is non-nonsensical, wholly unenforceable, and begs for ACLU and La Raza intervention.

      Very consistent with Gingrich, he has never had an idea he didn’t like, likes to present himself as smarter than anyone else in the room, and doesn’t consider the feasibility of implementation.

        JEBurke in reply to mdw9661. | November 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm

        With respect to Rush, every conceivable law or set of rules concerning who can enter and who can stay in the country are fundamentally arbitrary. Current rules governing visas, green cards, etc. are all arbitrary. Visitors can come to travel or conduct business for up to 90 days, not 91. Certain categories of workers need sponsorship by certain categories of employers, not others. Certain categories of relatives may apply to be reunited, not others. Certain types of threats qualify one for entry on political or humanitarian grounds, not others. All of these distinctions require a substantial screening and enforcement apparatus.

        Meanwhile, the core of the problem of illegals is that even if Congress were to decide what to do about them, whatever its decision, implementing it would be an enormous undertaking.

        If Newt’s suggestion is “unenforcable,” isn’t every other approach equally unenforcable., including a roundup and deportation of 11 million people, most of whom are doing their best not to be found?

Did you know that Newt has a bilingual web site called “The Americano” and has a Twitter feed in Spanish.

Welcome to the northern suburb of Mexico, formerly the United States.

    Aarradin in reply to mdw9661. | November 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    So long as he isn’t saying things in Spanish that conflict with what he’s saying in English, I have no problem with this.

    I’d much prefer to have conservative thought broadcast in Spanish than to abandon this voting block to liberal indoctrination.

      mdw9661 in reply to Aarradin. | November 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

      What’s amazing is the ignorance people have shown in terms of what sways the Hispanic, Latino vote. Consider for example the exit polls in the aftermath of the 2008 election.

      On the laundry list of foremost issues that resulted in the way Hispanics or Latinos voted, the immigration issue ranked 12th. The number one issue was the economy. There is no reason to believe it will be any different in 2012.

      Yet, liberals and many conservatives and moderates presume that immigration is foremost in the minds of the generic Hispanic and Latino.

      As to the Spanish web site and Twitter account, last I checked this is still an English speaking country where assimilation is expected.

So, finally someone made intelligent comments about what his policy would be regarding illegal immigration and he gets canned by so-called conservatives? Newt is not my favorite, yet, but his statement during the debate regarding his pro-family immigration policy made sense and I liked it.

The GOP can be just like the Dimmicrat branch of American politics every once in a while, so maybe we do need a Goldwater type or a Reagan reborn to shape us up. Newt just might be that person and we’ll find out over the next 6 to 8-months.

OTOH: is does come down to ABO in so many ways, yet that approach has its pitfalls too. We’ll find out.

    Doug Wright in reply to Doug Wright. | November 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Also, I’m clicking on that Grayson ad everytime I see it on a LI posting, so hopefully the professor gets a big bonus this year and Grayson a huge advertising bill, a double winner; in DDD speech, a winner winner.

I’m American..but I’ve spent the last 6 years working in foreign countries, so my views on immigration tend to be influenced by my own life experiences.

I have taken drilling rigs into countries where I not only have more experience working the equipment, I am heads and shoulders above the national work force with my training. However, those same countries immigration policies, with their extreme restrictions end up blocking out those with experience and training, and replacing same with persons who not only have very little experience, they also tend to have the most minimal training available. (Trust me, after 6 years, I have more than enough examples).

Then I get to a country such as Singapore and the worker’s visa program is something I wish we would have in the U.S.

1) in Singapore, construction workers are “manual”, therefore, you don’t see a lot of citizens here lining up for the job (something like our migrant farmers, wouldn’t you say?) What do I always see? Workers who’s main home is just right across the bridge in Malaysia. They come here to work in construction – they make more money here than they would ever make at home, they pay taxes to Singapore, their employer pays taxes to Singapore, and they are active in the Singapore economy. Result: buildings get built, and more workers are needed, so now construction workers are coming in from India and Pakistan.

2) Everyone in this country has either an “Identity Card” (Singaporian) or “Employee Pass” (expat). One can not open a bank account, buy a car, or apply for a job without one or the other.

3) Certain locations have immigration check points built into the security systems. I work at a shipyard, well over 5,000 people in and out of the main gate daily. I have to swipe a security badge. I can only get the security badge with one of the cards I listed in #2. For expats, the security system is tied to immigrations, and if my worker visa has expired, when I go through the gate, it notifies immigration. And before the day is over, there will be a van outside the main gate, a van with little bars on the window.

4) Residential status in Singapore is all about “what can you do for Singapore business”. They want foreign companies to come here (shipbuilding, banking, intl shipping). They don’t set up immigration laws that impede business growth.

5) And I don’t buy the “they take jobs from Americans” arguments. I’ve lived in agriculture states – I didn’t see a lot of blonde, blue eyes out in the fields picking crops. I don’t see a lot of second, third and fourth generation Americans getting excited about being a dishwasher. Bottom line, Singapore has a 2.5% unemployment rate, and almost 20% of the people here are on residential status. You do the math.

What nearly everyone here and elsewhere has failed to recognize is that this immigration crisis would not exist IF all current laws were enforced.

The country faced a similar situation in the 1950’s during the Eisenhower administration. The solution… Enforce all current laws without exception. The result was that the issue resolved itself within a year.

Why does 21st century thinking insist on taking a complex route? Can we not simplify issue resolution anymore?

Regarding Gingrich’s position… Now that he’s on top he is already becoming a bully and I look for him to flop harder than Perry.

The American public has made their position regarding illegal immigration known in plain terms for years and it’s time for the politicos to enforce the public’s will and enforce curret laws…

The immigration debate: penalty for speeding depends on how much your car costs. If you drive a cheap wreck, you don’t get a ticket – one can ignore the limit. A Mercedes gets towed and confiscated. Standard cars receive a maximum fine.

The problem with the no-amnesty pledges: one court ruling and all the written-in-stone laws about immigration get overturned.

The gov’t and business love the current immigration situation: low wage earners get subsidized by low to higher income US tax payers. And the illegals have children they need to spend money on, further satisfying gov’t and business.

I notice that the only time our reptilian politicians talk about “compassion” is towards illegals, but they have nothing but contempt for law abiding US citizens.

Why can’t we all only obey the laws we want to like the illegals, politicians, Barack Obama and Jon Corzine?

StephenMonteith | November 24, 2011 at 2:39 am

Great work on finding a clip that cuts short of what he actually proposes. As anyone who paid attention during the 2008 election should remember, Romney FURTHER states that the people who are here illegally and are on the path to citizenship find their place on that path Behind the people who are trying to come here legally. Anyone who wants to become an American citizen can do so, but if they broke the law in coming here, then they need to go to the back of the line. And before the process for citizenship can begin, they have to pay a penalty for breaking the law; maybe deportation, maybe not, but certainly not amnesty. That’s the kind of nuance that gets lost when your YouTube clip is only 14 seconds long.

    StephenMonteith in reply to StephenMonteith. | November 24, 2011 at 3:01 am

    In case you’re interested, this link has the full quote by Romney, not just the fourteen seconds of it you see above:

        William A. Jacobson in reply to StephenMonteith. | November 24, 2011 at 8:15 am

        Here’s the continuation of the sentence from your link… “but they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to say here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally. And that, I think, is the great flaw in the final bill that came forward from the Senate.” It in no way shows the clip to be misleading. Romney was for a pathway to citizenship, Newt’s statement the other night did not speak about citizenship, merely a subset of illegals who could avoid deportation. I don’t disagree with Romney’s position that illegal should get to the back of the citizenship line, but it is not truthful for the Romney campaign to charge Newt with seeking amnesty when Romney himself was for citizenship for illegals.

          StephenMonteith in reply to William A. Jacobson. | November 25, 2011 at 7:50 am

          First, there’s nothing “untruthful” about characterizing Newt’s position as amnesty, no matter what Romney’s position may or may not be.

          Second, Romney’s version of a “path to citizenship” avoids amnesty, as those who are here illegally would still need to pay some sort of penalty for breaking the law; a penalty that may include deportation, or it may not, depending on the circumstances. The clip is misleading because it equates Romney’s “path” with amnesty, making it seem disingenuous for him to attack Newt on the issue. In reality, no such conflict exists.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to StephenMonteith. | November 24, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Romney supported a path to citizenship for people here illegally. That is more than Newt has proposed. For the Romney campaign to be shouting “amnesty” at Newt is intellectually dishonest.

[…] and equally important, Romney has no answer on deportation policy. This resulted in the ”Abbott and Costello” routine I highlighted yesterday, in which Romney’s spokesperson could not or would not say […]