Perry, Gingrich, and America’s Changing View on Immigration

“I don’t think you have a heart,” exclaimed Rick Perry when he was asked about his controversial support of allowing Texas to provide in-state tuition rates for children of illegal immigrants. Thought of as a ‘flub’ and since weakly retracted by Perry, his comment was a powerful moment which began a simple chain reaction. That is, it allowed the Republican Party the opportunity to reflect and attempt to alter its image as the ‘party of no.’ Surprisingly, it’s the topic of immigration, once considered a non-negotiable amongst conservatives of the group, that may just be the catalyst for this change of public perception.

As Rick Perry continues to take his lumps, he has successfully left the door open for Newt Gingrich to introduce his own view on the subject. Speaker Gingrich reiterated and expanded his thoughts on immigration during the most recent Republican debate. While Speaker Gingrich’s views are far from liberal and steered clear of the more radical views of Perry, he certainly signified a shift in opinion of the party and the American people as a whole.

Could it be that America and its staunchest conservatives now realize that a more “humane” approach to immigration is necessary and good for the United States? Could it be that Americans are ready to deal with reasonable solutions to the fact that 14 million illegals are between our borders?

There are many on both sides of the aisle that would prefer to ignore the problem of immigration. After all it’s a slippery slope – forcibly removing 14 million people (many of whom are children) and sending them back to countries where they risk persecution and violence makes little sense. Then again, does making all 14 million people illegally in the United States good for America as well?

The truth is, I don’t know. What I do know, though, is Rick Perry did his party a tremendous favor by exposing what many feel is a need for humanity and compassion for those looking for a better life. Those people who were very much like our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. In the process of lifting his party, Perry may have further inadvertently submarined his own campaign.

In the interim, Newt Gingrich and the Republicans are big winners. Both have the opportunity to shed the rigid image they have acquired over the years.

The other winners are those who live in fear as a result of living in the United States illegally. It seems their plight will finally have a voice of reason and consideration regardless of who wins the election.

In the end, the Republican Party is to be applauded for sparking debate on a complex and emotional issue. They should also realize that many within their own ranks are truly searching for the ‘humane’ solution. Who knows, some may even actually ‘have a heart.’


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