Poll Position: How much time is enough for an illegal immigrant to qualify for legalization?

During a debate last month, Newt Gingrich unexpectedly and voluntarily went out on a limb by endorsing a form of legalization for illegal immigrants who have been here a long time, have roots in the community and have committed no other crimes. By way of explaining himself, Gingrich said he didn’t think the American people wanted to deport that group of people.

What amount of time should be the cutoff point for legalizing illegal immigrants?

  • A day is too long -- deport 'em all (154 Votes)
  • 10 or more years (79 Votes)
  • Time shouldn't be a primary factor (72 Votes)
  • 5 or more years (44 Votes)
  • 20 or more years (29 Votes)
  • A day is long enough -- let 'em all stay (18 Votes)

Total Voters: 396

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A new opinion poll suggests he may be right.

The latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll finds that just a quarter of all respondents wanted to deport all illegal immigrants without considering any mitigating factors. While the percentage of respondents choosing “deport them all” or “let them all stay” varied widely depending on such factors as age and political affiliation, support for letting some stay and deporting others was remarkably consistent: right around 40 percent, give or take a few percentage points.

Which raises an interesting question: How much time in the United States is long enough to make someone qualify for legalization?

In the debate, Gingrich mentioned 25 years, although that doesn’t appear to be a hard and fast number for him. Obviously, someone who’s been here for five years might have become more deeply rooted in his community than another person who’s been here 20. But what amount of time, if any, should be the cutoff point?

That’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll and in the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

114 comments Add your comment

arnold

December 9th, 2011
5:23 am

“In the debate, Gingrich mentioned 25 years, although that doesn’t appear to be a hard and fast number for him.” Of course there is no hard and fast number for him. He changes faster than the wind. The next nut case idea is sufficient.

Joel Edge

December 9th, 2011
5:59 am

Time shouldn’t be the primary factor. While you would think there would be some wiggle room for people that are in this country over some length of time. Unfortunately federal foot dragging over the last couple of decades and the unwavering defense of illegal immigration by some people have us down to an all-or-nothing point. Having someone here for twenty years is tantamount to saying the job hasn’t been done for twenty years. So let’s reset the button, again. Where’s the guarantee that the federal bureaucracy that we support for this job will actually do that job over the next twenty years?

ragnar danneskjold

December 9th, 2011
6:51 am

While I am an open-borders type – think Congress is incompetent to determine the number and type of immigrants our economy needs, and the free market is better suited for that duty – I like Newt’s distinction between residence and citizenship. I would grant citizenship to any immigrant who serves in the US military honorably for four years. All others should pass an English literacy test and a cursory test on the language of the Constitution, after residing here for 10 years or so. Of course, most native-borns could not pass either of those tests, so perhaps I am being too harsh.

Rick in Grayson

December 9th, 2011
7:34 am

I guess if any criminal is not caught in X number of years, they are forgiven. Sort of a statute of limitation?

With the mounting deficits in many states and our especially our national deficit, how will we pay for all the social services and freebies we provide for the “poor”. I believe that most of these illegal aliens will fall into the “poor” category. We can’t even take care of our own poor.

20 million illegal aliens become eligible for Social Security and see how that causes that program to tank! I can hear the arguments now…illegal aliens pay into SS. What a bunch of bull, if they do pay into the system, it is minimal. Those that pay in the least get the most benefits in relation to their contributions.

Obama and the Democrats want to continue the cuts in funding (payroll tax) of SS! Now we can throw in another 20 million who can withdraw from those funds. Kiss SS goodbye.

Mary Elizabeth

December 9th, 2011
8:05 am

Placing myself in another’s shoes, I think five years is sufficient. I am saddened by the fact that people who have only come to our nation, albeit illegally, to try to alleviate the pain that unemployment has created in their birth nation, are now having to live under additional fears of separation from their families and deportation.

I will be glad when the consciousness of the “Bible Belt’s” Christianity changes from more judgment to more love.

carlosgvv

December 9th, 2011
8:24 am

Two things:

1. I want strict enforcement of all the laws on the books, or
2. If a law is not going to be enforced, then remove it from the books

Having laws that are only partially enforced sends a terrible message to our school children. They are going to be tommorrow’s presidents, vice-presidents, congressmen and women and judges. Do you want to live in a country run by people who have been taught that obeying the law is optional?

1961_Xer

December 9th, 2011
8:28 am

The problem, as always, is that amnesty leads to MORE illegal immigration leads to more amnesty leads to more illegal immigration…

How many times do we have a “last” or “final” amnesty? If we give amnesty to the 15 or 20 million illegal aliens here now, there will be 15 or 20 million MORE in 10 years.

Road Scholar

December 9th, 2011
8:34 am

Three years unless they serve in the military. Do they want it? If so they must at least try to obtain it. Anything longer does not show dedication. 20 years…give me a break!

JDW

December 9th, 2011
9:04 am

This issue cannot be solved unless the root cause is addressed. The root cause is that people move here illegally because they can get a job but they can’t get legal status. We either have to make it much harder to get a job, easier to get status or a combination of both. Until then this entire situation will continue to repeat in perpetuity.

As for the issue of status for those already here…see above…if we fix the root cause that solution will provide the framework to address the current population.

Don't Tread

December 9th, 2011
9:04 am

The method they used to get here should be the primary factor, not time.

It is a slap in the face to natural born American citizens, and legal immigrants (who have had to jump over a lot of legal hurdles to get here) to allow the illegals a free pass.

Voice of Reason

December 9th, 2011
9:06 am

The problem is, it is nearly impossible to catch and deport every illegal immigrant, so enforcing the letter of the law is out. As carlosgvv states, if your aren’t going to enforce the law, get rid of it. What needs to happen is we have to get rid of the incentives for illegal immigration: no health care, welfare, college tuition (*cough cough* Rick Perry *cough cough*) or any other kid of social support. Criminals should be punished according to their crimes and deported. Unfortunately the best solution to deal with the illegals already in the country if to grant them residence to ensure that they at least pay taxes. However, the benefits of this country should be provided only to its citizens. You have to be hard hearted or the problem will never get fixed.

Don't Tread

December 9th, 2011
9:23 am

“it is nearly impossible to catch and deport every illegal”….Right. But if you take away the social support as you said, they will leave on their own and we won’t have to catch them.

Then if they want to come back, they can apply for citizenship legally.

Voice of Reason

December 9th, 2011
9:25 am

As I said, don’t give them the incentive to be here illegally.

jconservative

December 9th, 2011
9:31 am

“Do you want to live in a country run by people who have been taught that obeying the law is optional?”

I already live in such a country. I direct your attention to the US Congress. I direct your attention to the Georgia legislature.

Jack

December 9th, 2011
9:31 am

They’re here already. Give them some sort of legal pass, if they don’t have a criminal record, enabling them to work. But no voting privileges until they become citizens thru the legal process.

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
9:56 am

The primary word here is ILLEGAL!!!

JDW

December 9th, 2011
9:57 am

“if you take away the social support as you said, they will leave on their own and we won’t have to catch them.”

If they wanted social support they would go to Canada where they actually have social support. They don’t come here for social support they come for a job and thats what you have to take away.

JDW

December 9th, 2011
10:02 am

@UGA 1999…”The primary word here is ILLEGAL!!!”

Yes it is…on the part of whomever is hiring and paying them.

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
10:05 am

JDW…that is not the topic of discussion…. Nice job trying to spin the conversation.

Kashawahara

December 9th, 2011
10:06 am

Why reward some lawbreaker because he’s managed to avoid capture for X years. Agree, deportation for all is impractical but they must remain illegal until they go through the proper steps to become citizens.

JDW

December 9th, 2011
10:13 am

@UGA 1999…”Nice job trying to spin the conversation.”

Not spin…Root Cause…ever heard of Root Cause analysis? To fix the problem you have to fix the Root Cause and in this case that is the job. If you don’t you are just addressing the symptoms and never actually solve anything.

The Root Cause is not the Mexican guy crawling on his belly through the desert to feed his family. The Root Cause is the individual that created the reason he is coming…the job.

20 years

December 9th, 2011
10:13 am

I have lived for five years in foreign countries and then returned home to live in the United States and had no problems adjusting at all.

Five years really isn’t a long time – you can go home again! Twenty years, on the other hand….

michele

December 9th, 2011
10:14 am

I’d say if the illegal alien is born here in America, on Ellis Island, and swears on a stack of bibles to protect and defend the flag, then after 100 years, he may stay.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

December 9th, 2011
10:20 am

Do you want to live in a country run by people who have been taught that obeying the law is optional?
———-

Based on the experience of the last three years of the Obozo regime, I’d have to say “no”.

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
10:21 am

JDW….I am not arguing that is not a BIG problem as well. However there are LEGAL methods to get this done. There are millions of Latinos (and every other ethnic group) that come here legally and find work.

JDW

December 9th, 2011
10:39 am

@UGA 1999…There are millions of Latinos (and every other ethnic group) that come here legally and find work.”

Not really, unless you already have a US employer that is going to sponsor you under say H1B, there are 144,000 green cards issued every year. For most aspiring immigrants they have a better chance of winning the lottery. Fact is we have a system that makes it almost impossible to immigrate legally and then we look the other way when illegal immigrants are hired. If we really want to solve the problem we have to make the employers accountable otherwise they will just keep coming.

Dusty

December 9th, 2011
10:42 am

Mary Elizabeth,

I will be glad when you remove the log from your own eye and stop making judgments against the “Bible Belt”. The people of the so-called Bible Belt are people who obey the laws of the USA. They are simply implementing those laws which are established through our democratic processes.

Illegal immigrants flock to this part of the country because they can find jobs and little hate against them. Many of our later immigration laws are an effort to remove the criminal element among those who come here illegally. Hard working, established immigrants both legal and illegal do not want criminals in their neighborhoods.

If you could stop demonizing the “Bible belt” you might notice the “love” being given by many churches and religious organizations to help all people no matter who or where they came from. Food pantries, shelters, ESL classes, health programs, and much more; all given with few questions asked.

Immigrants have always been a vital part of our country. But they are required to obey the laws of our country just like everybody else here. A country cannot survive without justice embodied in the law. A country does not survive with anarchy. You might consider that in your judgments.

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
10:46 am

JDW….why do you think there are only 144k green cards issued every year? “we have a system that makes it nearly impossible to migrate here legally”….not true. My wife’s grandparents were immigrants and her cousins have gone through the process recently. Not hard at all.

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
10:50 am

JDW….you are also a liar….1.1 MILLION green cards were issued in 2009. Great job on that spin there buddy.

Not Blind

December 9th, 2011
10:55 am

There is nothing more stupid than letting policy be dictated by people who should not even be in this country. Just call up Mexico and let them tell us how to run our country.

JDW

December 9th, 2011
10:59 am

@UGA 1999…there you go again devaluing your degree…check the green card stats…we are talking about immigrants coming to this country for work. Of the 1.1MILLION green cards you managed to locate about 144,000 are employment based and are limited by law. The rest are family members of those already here, investors, refugees, or political asylum seekers.

:roll:

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
11:01 am

JDW….THEY ARE STILL IMMIGRANTS!!!! Dude you really cannot be serious. You really do not want to make that arguement do you? OH that is right all that is wrong in America is because of big business. If those fools didnt hire illegals…..CRAP.

Try to go illegally into Mexico….IT IS A FELONY. We are the only country with such lax immigration rules.

Daily Aued

December 9th, 2011
11:08 am

Employ the egalitarian predilection.

JDW

December 9th, 2011
11:10 am

@UGA 1999…”OH that is right all that is wrong in America is because of big business.”

Actually the issue is Americans that don’t really understand the issues and would rather pontificate and thump their chests.

Cosby

December 9th, 2011
11:12 am

Sad that we are to this point. If the Federal Government had followed the constitution and protected the borders, then we would not be talking about this. I say if they stay, then every elected official should have to contirbute to the schools and hospitals that have seen their cost increase due to illegals – $2,500 per immigrant should do it. They can take it out of their war chest, their retirement, their benifits provided by the tax payers. That would fix the problem in a hurry

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
11:14 am

JDW…correction…what is wrong with America are people like you that think they know what the problems are but are pointing in the wrong direction.

Halftrack

December 9th, 2011
11:14 am

How long should a termite live in your house before it is considered part of the structure? The key here is getting a method for illegals to express allegiance to this Country and full assimilation. A termite will always be a termite who is destructive. In days of yore, one leaving Scotland coming to the U.S. for citizenship had to get permission from their Native Country to leave it. Do other countries have no pride in their governments and value their own citizens anymore. It appears that we want to give away our country to anyone who wants it. Our Leaders have failed us and even those illegals who want to get in. It is sad, but we are a declining nation.

Streetracer

December 9th, 2011
11:14 am

JDW @ 10:13 I think:

Yes we have to remove the “root cause”, but you miss the point about what the root cause is. Illegals come to the US to do jobs that citizens won’t. The problem is that a fair percentage of citizens would rather live on other peoples money than fend for themselves. That is the “root cause”.

Oh yea right

December 9th, 2011
11:15 am

10 years, no citizenship and pay a fine for breaking our law in the first place, say 1,000 per year being here illegal.

In order to become legal the following needs to be done.
Fine paid for each year there here illegal – dont give a free pass on breaking our law in the first place.
No member of the family can be on any type of assistance – that included children born here as us citizens.
Must show proof of employment and pay back taxes.

Then and only then I would give them a green card, no citizenship is permitted ever as they came here illegally.

There , hard, maybe but why should the citizens of this country cater to citizens of another country with our money. We have enough people in this country that need our help, stop giving it all to the illegals. That is what I am sick of.

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
11:17 am

Streetracer…nice post.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

December 9th, 2011
11:25 am

Libtards hate the South because we’re more American than they.

getalife

December 9th, 2011
11:31 am

cons have no credibility and they know it.

The newt is on a book tour like cain.

They are not serious candidates cons.

Just making money from gullible cons.

JDW

December 9th, 2011
11:32 am

@Streetracer…”The problem is that a fair percentage of citizens would rather live on other peoples money than fend for themselves. That is the “root cause”.”

That is as big a fallacy as this whole “job creators” drivel. If you total up the direct and non-direct spending categories which are all the programs that are meant to help the poor, you will see that the federal government only spent 191$ billion on “welfare” for the poor in 2009. That amounts to about 5% of the budget. If you eliminated the whole category you have not even scratched the surface of the deficit.

If you split it equally among the 35 million poor that is about $5400 a person. Won’t buy much of a lifestyle now will it? People living on the government “dole” in this country is not a significant issue when compared to the others we currently face.

Billy Bob

December 9th, 2011
11:32 am

It’s interesting that no one was concerned about this 4 years ago. As long as there was plenty of work, construction was booming, rampant consumerism, people didn’t mind having immigrants here. Then things get bad so people look for someone to blame, usually those who can’t fight back. We haven’t deported any Wall St bankers recently.

What about kids that were brought here 20 years ago, how were they supposed to know or have any choice in the matter? Now they’ve been here 20 years, went to school, work, pay taxes, contribute to our society, what good is served by sending them to a country where they may not speak the language? Lets deport these educated folks so we can export or outsource more jobs overseas! Great strategy!

Taxes, that’s another issue. Politicians and others rant about immigrants not paying taxes. Has anyone actually documented this and the amount of money lost ? We know they pay sales taxes, can’t get out of that. If they work, many pay income taxes, perhaps with illegal SSN’s but they do pay. How many actually don’t pay? At minimum wage, we’d probably get very little taxes anyway.

Enforce all the laws, no exemptions! Ok, illegal immigration is a misdemeanor, just like running a red light. When was the last time you were at a light and no one ran it? What you mean to say is, let’s selectively enforce the laws that don’t affect me!

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
11:35 am

Getalife….you are right…hahahaha

Tom

December 9th, 2011
11:36 am

I have a solution to the problem. Annex Mexico… and all of those other Central American countries down to the Panama Canal. Widen the canal and fill it with bull sharks. Problem solved. Then round up all of the brown-skinned people and put them in concentration camps like they did the Japanese in World War 2.

Now that all of the looney toon ideas are out of the way, how about
1. Secure the border.
2. Institute a guest worker program where people who want to come her to work can do it legally without fear.
3. Get rid of the “anchor baby” idea by interpreting the 14th Amendment to the Constitution the way is was meant to be interpreted and stop using it to encourage illegal immigration.
4. Go after the employers and not the employees. A few CEOs doing a perp walk on TV with resulting $10 million dollar fines (against them personally and not their companies) and 10 years in jail without parole should convince these companies not to hire illegals.

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
11:38 am

Tom….I agree with your entire post….except we should go after the employees and employers.

Tom

December 9th, 2011
11:42 am

UGA 1999 – I agree that the illegal employees shouldn’t get a free pass. It just seems that ICE is concentrating on rounding up illegals at plants and not going after the people who hired them.

theTruth

December 9th, 2011
11:43 am

Who cares until the Banksters are behind bars.

UGA 1999

December 9th, 2011
11:46 am

Tom…..both are doing illegal activity to me. However if they never had come into the country in the first place the problem would have been solved. I understand that they are coming here for jobs, but they are also coming here for better living conditions and safety.