Palabra Final

Romney may have won last night’s debate but Gingrich had the answer Latinos were waiting for

Romney may have won last night’s debate but Gingrich had the answer Latinos were waiting for

LatinaLista -- New Hampshire, the site of last night's CNN Republican debate, is 94 percent white, according to the 2010 Census. Latinos are the largest minority demographic in the state comprising 2.8 percent of the population followed by Asians at 2.2 percent.

So, it's probably not a big surprise that the person who asked the lone immigration question of last night's debate was white. Her name was Lydia Cumbee and she lives in Franconia, New Hampshire. After announcing that Lydia was a naturalized citizen, the reporter at her side, Thomas Fahey, told the audience she had moved to New Hampshire FROM -- there probably wasn't a viewer watching not wondering if she wasn't from Eastern Europe or Canada because she did have a faint accent -- Minnesota. How that makes her a naturalized citizen in New Hampshire is a puzzle. But seriously, he never did bother to tell us where she originally hailed from, but no matter because she had an important question:

As a naturalized American citizen who came here legally, I would like to know how you, as America -- as president, plan to prevent illegal immigrants from using our health care, educational, or welfare systems?

gingrich.jpg

Republican candidate for President former House Speaker Newt Gingrich answers a question on illegal immigration during CNN debate.

The fact that a white immigrant was asking a question of illegal immigration that is seen as a crime of Latino -- read dark-skinned immigrants -- was immediately obvious. Unfortunately, some of the candidates' answers weren't as obvious.

For example, when Dr. Paul was asked by the debate's moderator John King:

And so, Dr. Paul, to you on this one, the question comes up, though, once they're in the country illegally, you have -- compassion sometimes bumps up against enforcing the law and state budget crises. A 5-year-old child of an illegal immigrant walks into an emergency room. Does the child get care?

Dr. Paul rambled for so long in his answer, touching on everything from the Catholic Church to the economy to Afghanistan, that it became painful to watch him avoid answering the question. Finally, King stopped him and asked him if the child would be denied care and Dr. Paul was forced to answer:

But, no, if you have an understanding and -- and you want to believe in freedom, freedom has solved these kind of problems before. You don't have to say, oh, you're not going to have care or there won't be any care and everybody is going to starve to death and -- and die on the streets without medical care. That's the implication of the question. That's just not true, and you shouldn't accept it.

Aside from the expected GOP responses to questions like birthright citizenship -- Caine disagrees with it; states creating their own immigration legislation -- Pawlenty says if the federal government isn't going to secure the borders then it's up to states.

Yet, Gingrich had the most forthright answer when asked if the federal government should assist states in rounding up and deporting all undocumented immigrants or provide them a path to citizenship.

No, but let me say this, John. No serious citizen who's concerned about solving this problem should get trapped into a yes/no answer in which you're either for totally selling out protecting America or you're for totally kicking out 20 million people in a heartless way. There are -- there are humane, practical steps to solve this problem, if we can get the politicians and the news media to just deal with it honestly.

Though Gingrich hasn't made a whole lot of sense during his short-run campaign -- especially when trying to convince people he didn't say what he really did say -- he did make sense in his answer last night about how to treat the millions of undocumented immigrants who call the United States home and have done so for years -- and he hit it right on the mark.

Until politicians deal with the issue in an honest and realistic way, the problem won't get any better -- and with each new state legislation trying to penalize and profile Latinos, it will only get far worse.

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