Gingrich proposes immigration reforms
In Republican Presidential debates, former House Speaker breaks ranks with rival candidates and suggests easing deportation rules in certain cases. Video by kgun9.comvideo
Local republican activist Lori Oien says Gingrich's idea sounds like amnesty for illegal immigrants, which she does not support
Immigration attorney Margo Cowan thinks Gingrich has sensed Americans want immigration reform and that other Republican candidates may follow his lead.
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Something made Arizona ears perk up in the Republican Presidential debate Tuesday night.
One of the candidates said under some conditions the U.S. should not deport illegal immigrants.
On the eve of Thanksgiving some pundits are suggesting Newt Gingrich may have cooked his own goose Tuesday night.
Immigration is one of the hottest hot buttons in Arizona Politics and conservative politics in general,
Tuesday, the former House Speaker essentially said, maybe the U.S. should find ways to not deport someone who's here illegally, but who has been law abiding in all other ways, lived here a long time, and has roots in the community.
That's a major break from the other candidates, and the usual Republican stand on that issue.
Republicans focused on foreign policy in their latest debate. That included immigration, and it included a call from Newt Gingrich to look for a way to let illegal immigrants stay, if they've been here a long time, built families here and their only break with the law is their immigration violation.
He said, "I don't see how the party that says it's the party of the family is gonna adopt an immigration policy that destroys families that have been here a quarter century and I'm prepared to take the heat for saying let's be humane in enforcing the law."
The heat started right away.
Gingrich says that does not mean he supports amnesty, but that's how his opponents labeled his stand and pundits started drafting his political obituary.
Fox News said Gingrich was taking a big risk. Reuters wonders if his stand was a stumble. The liberal magazine Mother Jones labeled him an immigration moderate.
Lori Oien is active in Arizona Republican politics. Gingrich's stand does not sit well with her.
She says, "We are the front line on the border issues and so we feel it first and for us, at least for me, amnesty is not an option. I want people to come to this country and be part of it and become citizens."
Margo Cowan is an attorney who helps undocumented immigrants avoid deportation. She says Gingrich may be more in tune with the general public than the rest of the Republican candidates.
"The American public's ready for a change and they're ready for a kind of plan that's reasonable, that regularizes status, that recognizes the contribution that these people make to the fabric of our society. And I think that's what Republican candidates are gonna have to come to grips with and this is just the first; and there will be more and it will be a full blown discussion and it's a discussion that has to happen."
Cowan thinks Republicans will see immigration reform as a key issue in attracting Hispanics to the Republican party.
But at the moment the Republican sentiment you hear most often calls for a harder line on immigration and those activist Republicans will be the ones likely to choose the party's nominee.