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Newt Gingrich on Immigration Bill

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 21, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

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MICHELLE MALKIN, GUEST HOST: In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight, as we told you at the top of the show, now that a bipartisan group of senators has struck a deal on immigration reform, the debate is going to the full Senate. And this is going to be a messy one.

Joining us now from Washington, FOX News contributor, Newt Gingrich, author of the new book, "Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8".

Mr. Speaker, thanks for joining us.

NEWT GINGRICH, AUTHOR, "PEARL HARBOR": It's good to be with you.

MALKIN: Question: Why does the GOP have such a death wish?

GINGRICH: I have no idea. This is the most self-destructive bill for Republicans to be sponsoring that I have seen, maybe in my lifetime. It is — I mean, you can't imagine how bad this bill is going to be by the time people understand all of its details and how foolish its sponsors are going to look, at least on the Republican side, where there is some semblance of a belief of the rule of law and some semblance of belief in the sense of fairness.

And this bill is a recklessly destructive bill, written, I think, in a fantasyland by a group of staff who have no idea how the U.S. government operates and, frankly, don't care how it operates.

This is a political bill written for political purposes. It fits the agenda of the left. And every Republican ought to be opposed to it, and frankly, every common sense Democrat ought to be opposed to it.

MALKIN: Newt, you are an historian. And the history of these kind of bogus trade-offs between amnesty and delayed enforcement have never worked. Hasn't worked since 1986, and every form of amnesty that's been passed since then — there have been about a dozen other smaller amnesties that have been passed, and the only result has been more illegal immigration.

Why don't Republicans and conservatives and these open borders libertarians learn from history instead of their imagined reality of what the situation has been for the last 30 or 40 years?

GINGRICH: Well, I think you have a lot of different things are coming together. President Bush, for whatever reason, seems to have a passionate desire to amnesty millions of people and to pass an immigration bill which will be stunningly destructive to his party and to his base.

A number of Republicans seem to buy the business community argument that they have been using illegal immigrants for years. Therefore to make them actually be legal would be very destructive economically. And I think that Democrats believe that the more people you can amnesty the better. At least left-wing Democrats do.

But when you look at the bill in detail, it strike me as — it's an amazingly badly written bill. For example, there are at least 30,000 illegal immigrants who belong to gangs, which are violent, which are drug dealing.

Those 30,000 gang members, according to analysis I got a few minutes ago, would all be grandfathered in under a Z-visa and could not be deported. Now, I mean, this is as close to madness as anything I've seen in modern government.

Apparently, the White House knocked out a provision to require that illegal immigrants at least pay back taxes.

MALKIN: Right.

GINGRICH: So now they won't have to pay back taxes. So now you're setting up a two-tier process, where if you are legal, if you are a citizen, if you have followed the law, if you've been a legal visa holder, you have to pay back taxes or you have real problems with the IRS. But if you cleverly broke the American law and you cleverly avoided taxes for all these years, you are somehow exempt.

Now I think the average American — this could be the kind of breaking point where the average American decides to throw everybody out, Democrat and Republican alike, and this could actually lead to the emergence of a very fundamental revolution at the grassroots.

MALKIN: Well, we'll see. I want to play a couple of sound bites. It's bad enough that the conservatives and Republicans get criticism from the left, but here is what Michael Chertoff is saying about immigration enforcement proponents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I understand there are some people expect anything other than capital punishment is an amnesty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALKIN: And here's what Lindsey Graham said about those same grassroots forces.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We are going to solve this problem. We're not going to run people down. We're not going to scapegoat people. We're going to tell the bigots to shut up, and we're going to get this right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALKIN: These are Republicans — Republicans — accusing other immigration enforcement activists in their own party of being bigots and wanting to basically execute illegal aliens and not offer them anything else. What's your reaction to that, Newt?

GINGRICH: Look, you know how pathetically bad their argument is if all they can do is call names. I mean, I'd be quite happy to debate McCain or Chertoff or Graham anywhere, any time about this bill.

This bill is a disaster. It is a failure. It should be defeated. It should cease to exist. The Senate ought to go back to regular business. They ought to try to produce an immigration bill through the regular committee process out in the open, where people can look at it, amend it, refine it, criticize it.

But this particular deal is as big a disaster as any Republican has had in my lifetime. And I predict if, in fact, it gets through the Senate, it will be a disaster for every Republican senator and a lot of Democratic senators is I think the anger is bipartisan.

Tax-paying Americans do not want to be told that international gang members are going to be amnestied. They don't want to be told that, as long as you are illegal you don't have to pay your back taxes. And they don't want to be told that their desire to enforce the law means that they're bigots.

I suspect in South Carolina there are a lot of people who are very unhappy tonight with Lindsey Graham and that kind of elitist attitude.

MALKIN: Definitely a lot of booing going on, Newt. We've got less than 30 seconds. Do you have any comment on what's going on in Lebanon right now?

GINGRICH: Sure. Lebanon is further proof that the War on Terror involves a lot more than Iraq, and it involves a lot more than America. And we better be prepared to help our allies win the War on Terror.

MALKIN: That's the bottom line, Mr. Speaker, thank you.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

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