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Should 'citizen juries' decide illegal immigrant status?
Newt Gingrich wants to put ordinary citizens on juries to decide the fate of illegal immigrants. Is he on to something?
 
U.S.-born children and their undocumented parents demonstrate in D.C.: Gingrich's immigration reform plan would see citizen juries deciding the legal status of eligible applicants.
U.S.-born children and their undocumented parents demonstrate in D.C.: Gingrich's immigration reform plan would see citizen juries deciding the legal status of eligible applicants.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed creating a legal mechanism to allow millions of long-term, established illegal immigrants to gain permanent residency, his GOP presidential rivals pounced, attacking him for supporting "amnesty." Gingrich denied that, explaining in Florida over the weekend that under his plan, the onerous "path to legality" would run through local "citizen juries" that would ultimately decide the legal status of eligible immigrants with deep community ties. "It requires trusting citizens rather than bureaucrats," he said. Is his idea smart?

Even hard-liners should (quietly) back Newt's plan: "I've been a real hard-ass on illegal immigration," says Jay Tea in Wizbang, but I'm alright with Gingrich's immigration ideas, even with their "degree of amnesty." The "dark truth" is that some "illegals" are here to stay, and as long as we put some limits on these local juries' ability to grant residency, Newt's compromise seems "workable." The citizen panels even have the "slightly subversive" benefit of taking immigration law out of federal hands.
"Gingrich exposes dark truth on illegal immigration"

There's less here than meets the eye: Local juries would still require a costly "massive new bureaucracy," says Suzy Khimm in The Washington Post, a likely deal-breaker for the Right. Meanwhile, the Left will object that Gingrich's plan heavily favors "well-off immigrants," since applicants must prove they're receiving no federal assistance. It's nice that Gingrich is trying to "bridge the gap in the immigration debate," but the citizen juries can't support the weight of his half-baked solutions.
"Gingrich: Citizen juries should decide which illegal immigrants stay or go"

Give Gingrich credit for original thinking: It's not like "Obama has taken courageous stands to create a clearcut path to citizenship for illegal immigrants," says the Santa Cruz, Calif., Sentinel in an editorial. Gingrich's plan isn't perfect, but he deserves kudos for sticking his neck out with an "actually fairly detailed" and realistic proposal. Besides, giving immigrants a shot at chasing the American dream, instead of automatically ripping them apart from their families, is more than good policy — it's good politics.
"As we see it: Newt voice on immigration reform"

 

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