Friday, June 29, 2007

Was Newt Gingrich for Amnesty Before He Was Against It?

In April, in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women, Newt Gingrich called Spanish in America "the language of living in a ghetto." A year earlier, he preached "zero tolerance for amnesty," and last week, in an TV ad bashing McCain-Kennedy, he declared that "[a]mnesty makes our laws meaningless."

In 1997, however, then Speaker Gingrich was singing a different tune. As Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten report in One Party Country: The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century (2006; p. 73):

Realizing the depth of their problem, congressional Republicans rolled back some of the most onerous restrictions on immigrants. Speaker Gingrich traveled to Miami's Little Havana shortly after the election to celebrate a blanket amnesty that saved thousands of Cubans and Nicaraguans from deportation. As Jodi Wilgoren reported in the Los Angeles Times, Gingrich had pushed for the amnesty in the final days of the congressional session, and he was welcomed in with the words "Hispanics Love Newt." Before leaving Washington, Gingrich has told a group of Hispanic Republicans of the importance of improving the party's image on immigration and race. "If we extend un gran abrazo [a big hug] to everyone," he said, "they will extend it back to us and we will be a big American family."