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Gingrich and immigration: Peter Skerry weighs in

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Program collaborator Peter Skerry (whose piece in National Affairs we covered here) has an op-ed on the debate raging in the Republican party on illegal immigration. Newt Gingrich has offered a plan in which some 11 million illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States would be granted legal status, but not a path to full citizenship. Skerry makes the case that more is in play than simple residency, and that focusing on this distinction may help to strengthen the idea of citizenship:

At a time when cosmopolitan elites are devaluing citizenship, conservatives in particular should appreciate the critical distinction between citizenship and mere legal residency, a status that would not afford the beneficiaries voting rights. If Mr. Gingrich’s critics have any doubt about this, they should listen to those few on the left who have already criticized the former House Speaker for advocating a form of ‘second-class citizenship.’

Skerry goes on to endorse Gingrich’s middle-of-the-road approach, advocating that his proposal “could actually address this genuine dilemma while acknowledging the legitimate anxieties that many Americans have about illegal immigration.”

[At our Teaching America, Juan Rangel discussed the immigrant experience of assimilation.]