Over the weekend, Michele Bachmann again accused Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants and released a letter the former House speaker signed in 2004 to try and prove it.
In the letter, Gingrich (and a group of conservative political activists like anti-tax leader Grover Norquist and a former Bachmann campaign pollster, Ed Goeas) announced his support for then-President George W. Bush’s immigration reform measures that included a guest worker program. The letter doesn’t endorse amnesty, however, but instead calls for adding “additional legal avenues” for allowing undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States to stay in order to work.
“Conservatives oppose illegal immigration. We believe there is a right way and a wrong way to immigrate to the U.S. However, as conservatives we believe that our laws must reflect reality and common sense, be fiscally responsible, and avoid the loss of innocent life. … The status quo is unacceptable and clinging to the status quo — or tougher versions of it — is neither conservative nor principled. It has become clear that the only viable approach to reform is combining enforcement with additional legal avenues for those who wish to work in our economy, while also addressing the situation of those already here in the U.S.”
“This letter is a clear indication that Speaker Gingrich has a deep history of supporting amnesty,” Bachmann said in a statement. “I don’t agree that you should make 11 million workers legal because that in effect is amnesty and will only encourage more illegal immigrants to come here.”
Gingrich’s Iowa campaign directed characterized the attack as “bumper sticker politics” from “confused or unjust” political opponents.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org