Genuine, Reagan-era conservatives will thank Newt Gingrich for his reasonable statement about immigration. In a Republican debate last week, Gingrich said: “I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which 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 without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.”
We agree with Gingrich and take his position even farther.
Yes, the GOP is considered the party of traditional family values. So it’s hard to understand why so many Republicans cannot wait to deport members of the most traditional, God-fearing families in the country. All surveys show that church attendance by Latino immigrants in the United States far exceeds that of non-Hispanic American citizens. Immigrants have more children than white Americans. A poll by the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute reveals that 83 percent of Hispanics oppose abortion, 52 percent strongly oppose abortion and only 15 percent support abortion rights. Even among self-identified “liberal” Latino immigrants, 60 percent oppose abortion. Raimundo Rojas, director of Hispanic Outreach for the National Right to Life Committee, says Hispanic immigrants are “a naturally pro-life constituency” and are conservative on most other social issues.
“Rather than talking about putting up a fence … why don’t we make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit? And then, while they are working and earning, they can pay taxes here,” said Ronald Reagan, while campaigning in Texas for the GOP nomination in 1980.
Reagan loved Latino immigrants and described Hispanics as “natural Republicans.” He garnered 37 percent of the Hispanic vote in 1984. George W. Bush carried Reagan’s pro-immigration torch, and by 2004 a full 40 percent of Hispanics voted Republican. The trend was up.
Today, Hispanics are trending from Republicans. “Conservative” talk show hosts and pandering politicians of expedience have taken anti-immigration hysteria to such extremes that it sounds like anti-Hispanic sentiment. As such, by 2008 only 31 percent of Hispanics voted Republican and the trend is down. Gingrich is correct to highlight the inhumanity of destroying good, productive families that have produced wealth and paid taxes in this country for decades. His plea won’t impress those who have no interest in crafting public policies that are compassionate, inclusive and life-giving. A shocking chunk of humanity likes to see other people suffer.
Gingrich might be wiser to advocate compassionate immigration policy on a basis of our country’s self-interest. A nation’s wealth comes from no source other than human productivity and trade. Deportation of self-sufficient, law-abiding immigrants only hurts this country’s economy. At great expense, we send away producers and consumers. We reduce the number of potential buyers and occupants of homes. We reduce the number of taxpayers. We reduce the number of people attending church, contributing to charities, reproducing and paying taxes.
Gingrich advocates policies that will allow good people — residents who contribute more than they consume — to stay in this country. That should be about as controversial as suggesting that we reward constructive endeavors and punish crime. It should be as controversial as explaining that importation of wealth improves the United States economy. The importation of productive, taxpaying immigrants is nothing other than importation of wealth.
Gingrich is right on immigration. He takes the legitimate, free-market, pro-production approach. Republicans would be wise to listen, rather than react with vitriol.