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Newt Gingrich On Immigration In 2004: Make It All Legal?

Newt Gingrich, speaking at a Chamber of Commerce panel on the state of the US economy in January 2004, said it was time to have a debate over whether to continue to make illegal immigration illegal.

Posted on January 25, 2012, at 3:22 p.m. ET

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"It time we were honest about people who come to America to work for a living. And it is time we quit kidding ourselves. We're not gonna put machine guns on the border. We're not gonna have minefields on the border. We're not gonna block people from coming to America who believe in the Statue of Liberty and want to work. So what we ought to be doing is what the President is having the urge to raise before the election. Which is really an act on enormous leadership. Lets have a debate about whether we want to continue to make illegal people who want to to work for living, pay taxes, and have a decent life. And by the way, guarantee that you'll never find the drug dealers and the terrorists hidden by all the hardworking decent people who in fact do not legally not come to the US. Or would we not be far better off to have a honest, open, accountable, regulated system? Where people who are willing to work can pay their taxes if they can get a job, can be in America, we know where they are, and we have now narrowed down are border problem to drug dealers and terrorists. And this is an important national debate. A debate to which will some extent split the Republican Party. And for President George W. Bush to show this kind of leadership in the beginning of an election year is a remarkable tribute to his commitment to be a truly historic President."

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