January 26, 2012
MIAMI — Fighting to curry favor with Florida’s large pool of Hispanic voters, Newt Gingrich on Wednesday called for a guest-worker program for most illegal immigrants, but his campaign could not say whether those people would be on a path to citizenship — the key question in the immigration debate.
Under close questioning by Univision’s political host, Jorge Ramos, Mr. Gingrich said he would grant quick citizenship rights to illegal immigrants who join the military or to those who have been in the U.S. between 20 and 25 years. He said the rest of the estimated 11 million should be given access to a guest-worker program.
“With most of them? I would urge them to get a guest-worker permit,” he said, calling for a substantial rewrite of immigration laws that would cancel existing penalties and instead let illegal immigrants stay.
But his campaign said it was unclear whether at the end of that guest-worker period the immigrants would be allowed to stay and gain citizenship, essentially jumping the legal immigration line, or whether they would be required to return home.