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Gingrich: GOP 'Drifting Toward Disaster'
Zogby/Human Events
Robert B. Bluey
May 15, 2006

With Senate Republicans "drifting toward disaster" on immigration, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said it's up to President Bush to reconnect with the majority of Americans who support a strong enforcement-first approach.

Bush will deliver a primetime speech to the nation Monday night on immigration—kicking off what is expected to be a tumultuous time in Washington as Senate and House Republicans clash on the best way to deal with immigration reform.

"I am very worried that the Republican leadership in the Senate and potentially the White House are just going to end up very alienated from the vast majority of Americans on this issue," Gingrich said in an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS. "The Senate bill is an absolute disaster."

Gingrich, who will be a guest on NBC's "Meet the Press" this Sunday, said it would be a mistake for Bush to embrace the Senate bill. Gingrich cited a poll released last week by Zogby and the Center for Immigration Studies that showed Americans support the House bill by a margin of 65% to 30%.

"I look forward to the speech Monday night because I fervently hope the President is not going to side with the liberals in the Senate against the conservatives in the House, because no one in the President's base will understand that decision," Gingrich said.

He added: "This is a great opportunity for the President to re-bond with the overwhelming majority of the American people. And the overwhelming majority of the American people say, 'Put border security first.'"

Gingrich cited polling data that he said underscores the importance of an enforcement-first approach taken by the House:

* 84% say the U.S. should go after employers who hire illegal immigrants * 86% say the U.S. should cut off cities and states that refuse to enforce the law * 90% say English should be a requirement to become a citizen * 85% say citizens should have a voter-identity card to make sure only Americans are voting

"The President has an opportunity to reach beyond the elites and identify with the American people and commit to these things," Gingrich said. He criticized Democrats for voting to keep in place a poison-pill provision that makes it a felony for an illegal immigrant to be in the United States.

"The Senate is drifting toward a disaster of the first order," Gingrich added. "The agreement on who they're going to appoint to the conference guarantees a bad bill. The bill they're looking at is a bad bill. It violates, in almost every case, what the American people want."

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) agreed to the terms outlined by Minority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) for the makeup of the conference committee. Under the agreement, Frist and Reid will each appoint seven senators to the committee. Republicans will get an additional seven from the Judiciary Committee, whereas Democrats will only be able to send five from the committee.

Gingrich said he believes the provision in the Senate bill allowing 11 million people to stay in the United States could actually balloon to three times that amount.

"If there is an honest debate about how many million people will be given a chance to come to America under the Senate bill, we're told the number is between 30 million and 36 million people," he said. "When the average American learns that, they are going to be furious if the Senate Republicans allow that kind of bill out of the Senate.

"The Senate bill expands substantially who can be brought in as a member of the family," he added. "So you take 11 million and add the other people, and we believe the real number is between 30 million and 36 million."

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