First published in The Huffington Post, 11/23/2011
Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?
As the holiday season approaches, it appears that a spirit of peaceful benevolence, or maybe complacency is sweeping the country.
Suddenly (sound of Bells of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Mexico), Republican presidential candidates are making exceptions to their (until now) rigidly-held, iron fist mantra against «The Illegal Aliens!»
This is how it sounded this Tuesday watching the candidates participating in the presidential debate on CNN.
By the way, this event intended to convince us of the contenders’ vast foreign policy expertise. But in the course of the debate, several of them managed to express, amidst a sea of bubbling and pompous grandiloquence, their lack of knowledge on various subjects, especially on the one they repeatedly stated is the most important job of the next Commander In Chief–National Security.
But this is what actually happened: Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, the new leader of the pack, offered what appeared to be an armistice, or a concession to the group that was until now seen as the Great Satan of the far right in this country: Undocumented Immigrants… We must deport them! All of them!
Wait a minute. Say that again?
Here is the transcript and this is what Gingrich actually said:
«If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grand kids, 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.»
Oh, yes. Belong to a church, said Gingrich.
Not synagogue, mosque, or cultural or volunteer activities.
And so the Gingrich that stole Christmas gave it back.
It appears now that not all «illegals» are, like my son used to say, «really, really, really» illegals. Or maybe they are, but hey, who cares? Eh?
If this happened now, when Newt Gingrich is «the flavor of the week», the final hope for the Everybody But Romney camp, the epitome of serious conservatism, and yes, the brain — the brain! — what can we expect for the rest of the campaign?
What? Support for «Obamacare?»
To add insult to injury to hard core conservativism, Gingrich also said: «And I don’t see any reason to punish somebody who came here at three years of age, but who wants to serve the United States of America», offering an excellent argument of support for the DREAM Act. Let me write it down.
Will this (this change, this snafu, or this brilliant idea from a brilliant mind) bring the candidacy of Mr. Gingrich to an end?
Or will it open the eyes of many in the GOPers whose mantra was until now: «What part of ILLEGAL don’t you understand?»
It’s difficult to predict.
On one hand, Michelle Bachmann reacted forcefully and immediately, accusing Gingrich «—-if I understood the Speaker correctly—-» during the debate and in an interview afterwards «of wanting to turn 11 million illegals into «legals.» (Wait a second…who or what is a «legal»?)
Seconds after the debate, her staff sent a press release titled: «Newt Gingrich’s Open Door to Illegal Immigrant Amnesty.»
Romney, also attacked him, using the codeword «Amnesty.»
On the other hand, it looked like others may soon follow suit. We’ll see. It’s too early to know. They may still change their minds, if the price exacted from Voldemort (sorry, Gingrich, He Who Said What Must Not Be Named) is too steep.
As for Gingrich, he later elaborated on his own idea by shortening the period of time to convert someone from an «Illegal Alien» to a Family Churchgoer from 25 to 20 years. Huh? What’s next?
True, Gingrich already outlined, during a debate in September, his idea of allowing some illegal immigrants to stay. This time, though, he had to repeat it, explain it, and defend it. After all, he IS leading the pack.
In his defense of his historic concession, «the Speaker» repeated during and after the debate that «I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take [these] people… and expel them.» Yes, everybody should support his defense of the family.
We will not give them citizenship, he said, but some sort of legality, so they are not separated from their families.
He also stated: «I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, ‘Let’s be humane about enforcing the law’.»
Reminds me of another flavor of another week, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who in an earlier debate, defended his support for the Texas DREAM Act, saying that anyone that opposes his view of giving in-state tuition breaks to undocumented immigrants didn’t «have a heart.» He later apologized but the damage was already done to his candidacy.
Anyway, good point by each. I agree with Mr. Gingrich. Avoiding separation of families is a noble principle. A very moral, American idea. Anything else is thus Un-American. Or, a radical, «socialist,» reactionary idea, to use his terms.
Like deporting 400,000 people in one year, many of who have lived here for decades, which is being done by this Administration.
Like, precisely, cruelly separating families. According to Ray Sanchez’s story in The Huffington Post, «An unprecedented increase in the deportation of undocumented immigrants has left an estimated 5,100 children languishing in U.S. foster homes — a troubling figure that could triple in the coming years.»
These children stayed because they are natural-born-citizens of the United States by virtue of the 14th Amendment: «All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.»
If the Republican candidate leading in the latest polls opposes the separation of immigrant families, a policy carried out by the current Obama Administration allegedly to face the right from the even farther right, where does this lead us? That in immigration, and in day-to-day reality («boots on the ground»), he may be to the left of Obama?
Please, I need a glass of eggnog.
Quite frankly, it seems there have already been way too many GOP debates, and many more scheduled. They have been going on now for far too long. Please. The candidates perhaps cannot remember what they initially thought. And they may, for a change, say something constructive.