News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Newt’s immigration solution: A permanent underclass

Gingrich is not interested in immigration reform. Instead, Newt would prefer the status quo: Keep undocumented workers scared, docile and willing to work for low wages. 

Newt Gingrich knows full well the winner of November’s presidential election must gain significant support among Black and Latino voters. Gingrich’s concession of the Black vote to Barack Obama was made abundantly clear in the first of the South Carolina GOP debates. To a standing ovation, Gingrich defended his comments linking African-Americans with welfare dependency and his reference to Barack Obama as the “food stamp president.” A burning cross would have been only slightly less subtle. But Newt believes he has an ace up his sleeve with Latinos.

Gingrich is the only GOP candidate to have offered a whiff of moderation in a debate on immigration reform in which the other Republican hopefuls vied over who would build the biggest border fence. Now, flush with a victory won by race baiting in South Carolina, Gingrich hopes to take his softer stand on immigration reform into Florida and make gains among Latino voters.

Wasting no time, Gingrich has already attacked Romney as being anti-immigrant and followed that by dredging up a Romney gaffe from 2008 when in a Florida speech Mitt used the phrase “patria o muerte, venceremos” made famous by Castro.

But Gingrich's solution to our broken immigration system is nothing more than the status quo. Gingrich does not support immigration reform, a guest worker program nor the DREAM Act. [Update: In a more recent Univision interview while on the stump in Florida, Gingrich reversed all of these positions.] Under his presidency, undocumented workers would remain exactly what they are today: a cheap and docile workforce (which can be used to depress the wages of mainstream workers) – and the political scapegoats for candidates pandering for votes among the fearful, bigoted and ignorant.

How will Romney react? Most likely Mitt will play to the GOP base and accuse Newt of being soft on immigration, sparking an ugly media game in which Latinos will be the political football being kicked back and forth across the field.

In a previous article I noted that the GOP’s only hope to win the White House will be in taking a divide-and-conquer strategy among minorities. The events unfolding in the Republican primary are only the beginning of the divisive politics to come.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

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