Newt Gingrich “offered a new doorway to amnesty” when he suggested he would not deport families who have lived peacefully in the country for 25 years or longer after immigrating illegally, Mitt Romney said in Iowa today.
“I just think we make a mistake as a Republican Party to try to describe which people who come here illegally should be given amnesty, to be able to jump ahead of the line of the people who have been waiting in line,” the former Massachusetts governor told reporters at a campaign stop in Des Moines. “My view is the people who have waited in line patiently to come to this country legally should be ahead in line. And those who come here illegally should not be given a special deal or a special accelerated right to become a permanent resident or citizen.”
The dispute came as the two politicians jostle for the upper hand in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, expected to be dominated by conservative Republicans.
Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House, made his comments on the sensitive immigration issue during a Tuesday night debate in Washington, D.C. He said he doubted most Americans would favor splitting up immigrant families who have been here for decades, paid taxes and stayed out of trouble.