Republican National Security Debate: Candidates Present Differing Views On Immigration And Border Security

11/22/2011 11:40 pm ET | Updated Nov 22, 2011

To follow please find excerpts from the HuffPost live blog which accompanied Wednesday night's GOP candidates' debate on national security issues on CNN.

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10:36 PM

'I Want To Be Tough But I'm Not Willing To Kid People'

Speaking to CNN after the debate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich elaborated on his immigration policy proposal, acknowledging that millions of current undocumented citizens would end up staying in America.

"There are lots of people who will go home, millions will go home," Gingrich told CNN. "They have no ties here, no roots ... but there are also millions who are going to end up saying."

He expanded from there. "I can't imagine any serious person who will walk down the street, see someone they know for 20 years and say, 'You're leaving your family, you're leaving your church, you're leaving the community... and we are kicking you out forcibly.'"

Told that Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign had accused him of opening the door for amnesty, Gingrich called the attack "totally inaccurate."

"I want to be tough but I'm not willing to kid people," he said.

-- Filed by Sam Stein

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10:25 PM

Gingrich: Don't Deport All Undocumented Immigrants

Newt Gingrich broke with many members of the Republican base in Tuesday night's debate, arguing that every undocumented immigrant -- especially ones with strong ties to their communities -- should not be deported:

"Once you've put every piece in place which includes the guest worker program, you need something like a World War II selective service board that frankly reviews the people who are here," he said.

"If you've come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home period. If you've been here 25 years and three kids, two grandkids, paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church -- I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you and kick you out. The Krieble Foundation is a very good red card program that says you get to be legal but you don't get a path to citizenship. So there's a way to ultimately end up with a country where there's no more illegality, but you haven't automatically given amnesty to anyone."

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) sharply disagreed with Gingrich, saying, "I don't agree that you would make 11 million workers legal because that in effect is amnesty. And I also don't agree that you would give the DREAM Act on a federal level. And those are two things that I believe that the Speaker had been for, and he can speak for himself."

Gingrich has praised parts of the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for some young people who came to the United States without documentation.

During tonight's debate, he said the part of the legislation he likes is that it allows young people to join the U.S. military to acquire citizenship.

"I don't see any reason to punish someone who came here at 3 years of age but who wants to serve the United States of America," he argued.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney also took issue with Gingrich's approach. When asked by moderator Wolf Blitzer if he believed Gingrich's program would encourage more undocumented immigrants to come to the United States, Romney replied, "There's no question but to say that we're going to say to the people that came here illegally, that now you're all going to get to stay -- or some large number are going to get to stay and become permanent residents of the United States -- that will only encourage more people to do the same thing. People respond to incentives."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was more open to providing some sort of path to citizenship or residency for some undocumented immigrants, although he said it couldn't be done until the border with Mexico is secured.

"I do think that there is a way that after we secure that border, that you can have a process in place for individuals who are law-abiding citizens, who have done only one thing -- as Newt says, 25 years ago or whatever that period of time was -- that you can put something in place that basically continues to keep those families together. But the idea that we're having this long and lengthy conversation here, until we have a secure border, is just an intellectual exercise."

Romney replied that he wasn't going to "start drawing lines here about who gets to stay and who get to go."

"The point is that we are not going to have an amnesty system that says that people that come here illegally get to stay here for the rest of their life legally," he added.

The progressive Center for American Progress has estimated that it would cost U.S. taxpayers $285 billion to deport the estimated 10.8 million undocumented immigrants in the United States over five years.

-- Filed by Amanda Terkel

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10:02 PM

Bachmann Hits Gingrich On Immigration
The Bachmann campaign was quick out of the gate to hit Newt Gingrich for his stance on immigration reform -- every political reporter in America just got a copy of a release titled "Newt Gingrich's Open Door to Illegal Immigrant Amnesty."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich receives applause when he calls for declaring English the official language of American government, but his immigration policy effectively equates to amnesty for foreigners residing in the United States unlawfully.

In the Reagan Library debate in September, Speaker Gingrich admitted he favored a path other than enforcing existing law regarding illegal immigrants:

"...find a way to deal with folks who are already here, some of whom, frankly, have been here 25 years, are married with kids, live in our local neighborhood, go to our church. It's got to be done in a much more humane way than thinking that to automatically deport millions of people." ("2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Debate," NBC, transcript: www.nytimes.com, 11/7/2011)

This stance echoed an earlier sentiment Speaker Gingrich expressed at his own forum in December 2010:

"'We are not going to deport 11 million people,' Gingrich said Thursday as he kicked off his first forum on Latino issues. 'There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty.'" ("Newt: 'We are not Going to Deport 11 Million People'," FoxNews.com; nation.foxnews.com, 12/2/2010)

When discussing the DREAM Act at the same forum, Speaker Gingrich explained every person living in the United States, regardless of legal status, deserved "the opportunity to grow more prosperous":

"We have to find policies that extend to every American, and that includes people who are not yet legal, every American, the opportunity to pursue happiness, the opportunity to have a work ethic, the opportunity to grow more prosperous." (The Laura Ingraham Show, "In heated exchange, Newt Gingrich clarifies immigration stance", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6e60tSGkYYk, 12/3/2010)

The Bachmann camp concludes:

America should always welcome, without any trace of discrimination, all legal immigrants. But the emphasis must be on the word "legal." And we must have an equal emphasis on border security and homeland security. The Obama Administration, like previous administrations and Congresses controlled by both parties has failed us on both scores.

The last time our immigration laws were overhauled was in 1986, with amnesty granted to three million illegal immigrants. At the time, Americans voters were led to believe this would solve our immigration problem. However, since then the number of illegal immigrants has quadrupled (by conservative estimates). Rather than repeating the mistakes of the past, we must do everything we can to secure our nation's borders. We need to push for more Border Patrol officers, and stand by them. We need to complete the border fence across the entire US-Mexico frontier, make E-Verify mandatory, and eliminate funding for states and cities that knowingly harbor illegal immigrants.

-- Filed by Jason Linkins

Please read the HuffPost live blog which includes highlights, commentary and analysis of Wednesday night's GOP candidates' national security debate on CNN.

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