The Republican chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus blasted GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Tuesday for calling to allow some illegal immigrants to remain in the country.
Speaking on CNN’s “John King, USA,” Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) likened the former House Speaker’s plan to drilling a hole in the bottom of a sinking boat to let the water out.
“Newt, I don’t care who you are,” Bilbray said. “Quit sending the mixed message that we are going to somehow reward or accommodate you if you broke the law while there are those waiting patiently and playing by the rules, waiting to come into this country legally.”
Bilbray countered that as a former congressman from Georgia, Gingrich doesn’t truly understand the problem.
“I’m one of the few members of Congress to have seen what happens along the border when people from Georgia or somewhere else that don’t understand what’s going on with the immigration issue don’t take the time to go to Latin America and talk to people who are considering coming here illegally,” he said. “They don’t understand that talking about amnesty to reduce illegal immigration is about as logical as somebody saying, ‘Let’s drill a hole in the bottom of a boat to let the water out.’ You’re going to cause a whole new wave of illegal immigration.”
Gingrich has seen a sharp rise in the polls despite his controversial immigration stance, which has attracted considerable backlash in conservative circles. Gingrich’s presidential opponent Rick Perry has picked up the endorsement of Maricopa County, Ariz.’s staunch anti-immigration Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and influential Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he doesn’t agree with Gingrich’s proposal because it’s a “form of amnesty.”
Bilbray also likened Gingrich’s proposal to opening a candy store in the middle of a highway, and said that it’s not just Gingrich’s proposal that’s a problem — having a public discussion about amnesty in the first place is equally as bad, he said.
“It’s sending a signal to the world that a candidate for president, or worse, the president himself, has announced that if you break the law and come to this country illegally — if you risk your life or be one of those who die along the border and try to come to the country illegally, we will reward you if you come in here,” Bilbray said.
“Everyone who is given a job and any elected official who is announcing to the world that Washington and the federal government is going to reward illegal immigration are part and parcel to the problem of sending a clear and defining message. Even Newt Gingrich would say that our problem is that we’ve sent mixed messages in the past and that’s enticed people to come here and be here illegally.”