Gingrich's Citizenship Problem

After the November 22 Republican debate in Washington, D.C., many conservatives took issue with Newt Gingrich's proposal to establish a system of local boards of review to assess the cases of illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States for twenty-five years.  While his opponents on stage chose to focus on concerns that the plan would entrench a powerful new "magnet" for illegal aliens, others isolated the strangest aspect of Gingrich's proposal, which was his explicit description of such long-established illegal immigrants as "law-abiding citizens."  How, people reasonably asked, can an illegal alien who has never been granted U.S. citizenship be called a "citizen" at all, let alone a "law-abiding" one?  Some of us shied away from putting too much emphasis on this odd phraseology.  In my own case, I considered that "law-abiding citizen" is a hackneyed expression, and hence the kind of term that a candidate might carelessly toss off in the heat of a...(Read Full Article)

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