As Newt Gingrich gears up his campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, he’s trying to accommodate a wide breadth of voters. But so far the his strategy doesn’t seem very effective. His comments about immigration in Iowa this week are a case in point. Gingrich raised the idea of citizen boards, which he likened to World War II-era U.S. draft boards, to determine on a case-by-case basis whether undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the country. “I’m looking seriously at the way the Selective Service Act used to work in the 1940s and World War II where a local Selective Service board who knew the local people made the decisions,” he told a crowd in Iowa.
“Because I think we are going to want to find some way to deal with the people who are here to distinguish between those who have no ties to the United States, and therefore you can deport them at minimum human cost, and those who, in fact, may have earned the right to become legal, but not citizens.”
His line was very similar to what he told a Univision interviewer days before on “Al Punto.”
Gingrich has long acknowledged the GOP’s need to attract Latino voters. He launched “The Americano” in 2009, a conservative news blog that promotes his ideology. But his proposal is not likely to satisfy those in his party who say any plan that mentions the term “legalization” means amnesty. Gingrich was already on the defensive this week, after being attacked by ultra-conservatives for criticizing a Republican plan to overhaul Medicare.
Likewise, the idea of putting the fate of individual immigrants in the hands of local “immigration” boards is sure to raise hackles among immigrant-advocates.