Newt Gingrich mocks Romney for his ‘self deport’ immigration plan

Liz Goodwin

Newt Gingrich Wednesday criticized Mitt Romney's suggestion that illegal immigrants should deport themselves as an "Obama-level" fantasy that is inhumane. In an interview with Univision's Jorge Ramos, Gingrich laughed when asked about Romney's plan. "I think you have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic, you know, $20 million a year income with no work to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said.

During Monday's debate, Romney said he would not round up and deport the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Instead, he would encourage them to voluntarily return to their home countries by more strictly enforcing laws that forbid them from working. "The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here," he said.

The idea is not new. Kansas secretary of state and anti-illegal immigration activist Kris Kobach, who recently endorsed Romney, has written about how state and local politicians can mandate increased enforcement of immigration laws in an effort to get illegal immigrants to leave out of fear. Kobach writes model immigration legislation for other states. His laws, including Arizona's SB1070 and Alabama's version of it last year, have drawn suits from the federal government, which says the states are interfering with the federal government's control over immigration.

Unlike Romney, Gingrich has said he supports a limited path to legalization for immigrants who have lived in the country for decades and have strong ties to their communities. Both candidates say they would veto the Dream Act, a bill that would allow people who were brought to the country as children to earn legal status if they join the military or go to college. They support a military-only path to citizenship for this group.

In Florida, about 10 percent of registered Republican voters are Latino.

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