OTR Interviews

Immigration on hot seat at GOP debate

Sparks flew at the GOP debate over illegal immigration - especially between John Kasich, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. Newt Gingrich goes 'On the Record' with his take on who won the exchanges


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 11, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former speaker of the House and author of the new book "Duplicity" Newt Gingrich goes ON THE RECORD.

Nice to see you, Mr. Speaker.


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the most passionate part -- people in the Republican Party, i assume, the base, don't like illegal immigration. Is that correct? Is that fair?

GINGRICH: I think that's fair to say.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Donald Trump says, OK, I'm going to come in here. I'm going to throw 12 million out and I'm going to build the wall. So that's probably pretty attractive to them, right?

GINGRICH: I think that's a big part of his support -- his current support.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that possible?

GINGRICH: Well, I think building the wall is clearly possible.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about the 12 million?

GINGRICH: I think that's not practical at all at a very human level. Imagine the number of churches that will become sanctuaries. Imagine the number of families in which half of them are American citizens born in the U.S. And now you are going to go ahead and you're going to become the party that destroys families?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, so then, how does a Republican, like Governor Kasich or Governor Bush, possibly get the base if they've got people like Donald Trump going out there and saying they are going to do this? And that he's going to do that.

GINGRICH: I think this is -- I thought this was a very healthy, genuine debate. I mean, we have -- the great genius of America is that over time the American people as Bill Buck they once said are smarter than the Harvard faculty. And over time we are going to talk this through.

Virtually, everybody agrees we should build a wall on the Republican side. Mostly everybody agrees we should find a way to control who comes in. And by the way. 40 percent of people who come in are here illegally and stay beyond their visas.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then become illegal.

GINGRICH: Then become illegal. And I think we have to find a way to deal with people who are here illegally but, in fact, have been working hard, obeying the law and are part of the community.

VAN SUSTEREN: So how does someone like a Governor Kasich or Governor Bush get the base understand that --

GINGRICH: That we're doing it.

VAN SUSTEREN: You think they're doing it. You think that was persuasive. I mean, what Donald Trump promises. We are going to get rid of them. We are going to throw them out.

GINGRICH: Right. And I think you have to look him in the eye and say let's go down and visit the school in your neighborhood, or the church in your neighborhood, or the store in your neighborhood, Donald, where you are going to walk in and I'm going to point out the people you are going to uproot.

Now, are you really going to do that? And the truth is you are not. And grandmother as I said in 2012 ain't going to self-deport. So you are going to have immigration police who go out and rip apart families and leave the American born half here and send the other half?

And this is the party that believes in the family? I think once you get into that level of conversation, what people want to know is you're going to stop from coming in. You are going to control the border. You are going to find a way to make everybody legally accountable. And over a very long period of time people might get citizenship, but they are not getting it next year. They're not going to get it in the near future. And to get it, they have to learn English and they have to learn American history at which point, frankly, they will be prepared to be Americans.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, does Senator Marco Rubio was part of the gang of eight, an effort to get in a comprehensive immigration bill through the Senate. That didn't happen. To what extent does that make it more of a problematic issue for him as he now goes out and campaign?

GINGRICH: Well, Marco Rubio is a unique personality. And all I would say is no comprehensive bill is ever going to pass, because it's too big, it's too complicated and you bring together too many opponents.

And Rubio himself has said that he misjudged where we were. The country wants to know first, that you are going to control the border. Second, that you are going to find ways to ensure the law.

When you look at the impact of illegal immigration on Los Angeles today, where the number of people who are potentially available for Medicaid is extraordinary because we have tolerated this enormous wave of people who have come into the U.S. who don't have language skills, don't have very good job skills, want to work very hard but aren't prepared for the modern economy and this is a, this is a real national problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: And, viewers, I wanted to know what you think, which G.O.P. candidate performed best at last night's prime time "Fox Business Network" debate.

Tweet the candidate's name #Greta. We're going to show you your live Twitter votes throughout the show.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of immigration, is that going to be paramount in this race, you think, in 2016 when we get down to sort of the voting next November, or do you think the economy is going to be.

GINGRICH: You mean between the --

VAN SUSTEREN: Republican and Democrat? Because the Democrats have a very different view of this.

GINGRICH: I think controlling the border is going to be a real issue. When you have the former Governor O'Malley running around saying Hillary is wrong to even want to control the border. I mean, if you want an open border Democrat, I can't imagine what this convention would be like.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do Democrats want them?

GINGRICH: Because they are nuts. I mean, I can't give you --

VAN SUSTEREN: And there you have it.

GINGRICH: I mean, I can't give you -- in the age of ISIS, in the age when the Europeans just captured an al Qaeda leader who would come in as a Syrian refugee, I mean, I can't explain why some Democrats are so out of touch with reality that they advocate things that are by any reasonable standards suicidal.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, nice to see you. Thank you, sir.

GINGRICH: You, too.