1. I don’t think the immigration issue hurts Gingrich in sort of a complicated way. Gingrich voted for amnesty in 1986. Now he supports another kind of limited amnesty. He can talk all he wants about red cards and American-born grandkids, he is still going to be the (an)amnesty guy. I don’t think that being for a moderate amnesty is a killer by itself. What it does is crack Gingrich’s conservative-authenticity image. It will make him more vulnerable to other charges that he isn’t a ”real” conservative. Conservatives will be more likely to give weight to arguments about Gingrich’s past support for a federal health insurance purchase mandate and cap-and-trade (not to mention Freddie Mac – though they were supporting him for some slightly mysterious reason.) Immigration also creates a new dynamic. Romney couldn’t go at Gingrich for Gingrich’s past tense support of cap-and-trade and a health insurance mandate. Romney can now hold down Gingrich while Bachmann hits Gingrich with an axe over immigration. Then she can hit him as a phony over the mandate (Gingrich was for a mandate just four years ago), cap-and-trade, etc. It is also in Bachmann’s interest to focus her fire on Gingrich in the hopes of getting (or getting back) Gingrich’s conservative authenticity-oriented supporters. Let’s face it, if a voter has stuck with Romney this far, they aren’t going to Bachmann. The incentives are there for a comeback of the Romney/Bachmann team that helped do in Pawlenty and Perry earlier this year. There is also a chance for Santorum in all this. Or I could be wrong about all of this.
2. I really hate the immigration red card thing. I agree that we should have a limited amnesty after we have reformed border and internal enforcement and reformed immigration policy in the direction of high-skilled labor. But if we are talking about longtime residents with deep ties to the community, the amnesty should be geared toward citizenship. If we are going to let someone stay here for the rest of their lives, it makes sense that we admit them as citizens. Because if we don’t want them as citizens, why do we want them here for life?
3. Same thing about the guest worker thing. My view of immigration is that, as a general rule, it should be about letting in future citizens. It won’t always work out that way on an individual level, but it is a good rule to follow in policy making. Also guest worker programs are misleading. As long as we have birthright citizenship (and there is no reason to think it is going to go away in any foreseeable future), guest workers are going to have American-born children and grandchildren who will be an argument for keeping them in the country as either a permanent nonvoter class or else changing the law to make them citizens. It is better to have a straight argument about how many potential future citizens we want to allow in.