Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich on Wednesday called for creating an immigration reform plan so that undocumented foreigners who have links with this country can remain here legally and he expressed his interest in closer ties with Latin America.
“We have to make a plan to legalize undocumented people,” said the politician in Miami at an event organized by Univision, the Hispanic television channel with the largest viewership in the United States, and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Less than a week before the Republican primary in Florida, which is the first state with a heavy Hispanic presence on the 2012 election calendar, Gingrich expressed concern about the situation of people who are living in the United States illegally.
Gingrich will face off in Florida against three other Republican presidential hopefuls: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
The former House speaker told journalist Jorge Ramos, one of the best-known faces in the country on Hispanic television, that if he becomes president he will “legalize” the people who have been living in the United States “for the past 20 or 25 years” and are caring for a family.
However, he also said that if there are people “without connections” living illegally in this country they will have to return home.
Regarding the situation of undocumented students living in the United States, Gingrich said that, if he becomes president, although their parents illegally entered the country, the students will be able to become citizens if they join the military.
The 68-year-old former Georgia congressman added, however, that all cases would have to be reviewed individually.
When asked about Latin America, Gingrich said that it is a “neighboring” region and added that he has “great interest” in Mexico and in all of Latin America.
He also emphasized that his aim is for “Latin Americans to have a better life.” He used the example of Haiti, where “they have a very bad life” and asked the audience “Why not help them to have a better life?”
Gingrich also mentioned the violence occurring in “Mexico, Colombia and part of Central America” and expressed his commitment to provide “tremendous support” to those countries.
The former speaker criticized President Barack Obama regarding his administration’s relations with Latin America and noted that Ronald “Reagan did much more in the eighties,” saying that the late president valued the Latino community, created more jobs and had more effective policies vis-a-vis Latin America and also in his relations with Cuba.
Gingrich said that his aim is to create jobs in South Florida, thanks to the strategic role the area plays in the relationship between the United States and Latin America.
The Republican candidate also discussed his plan to facilitate the entry of tourists into the United States, which he said has a very positive effect on the economy.