Newt Gingrich thought he was stating the obvious when he said it would be inhumane to deport longtime residents. He was wrong.
Is it inhumane to deport an illegal immigrant who came to the United States 25 years ago, established roots, obeyed the law, raised his children here, and now has American grandchildren? Yes, emphatically so. But I suspect that when Newt Gingrich made that assertion during Tuesday evening's GOP debate, he upset a lot of conservative Republican voters.
Short of calling immigration restrictionists "racist," the quickest way to upset them is to say that they're "heartless," as Rick Perry once put it, or that they suffer from a lack empathy or compassion. That's the sort of thing liberals are always saying when they attack immigration restrictionists, who resent the accusation even more when it is made by their fellow conservatives. I can imagine how they feel. For the most part, these immigration restrictionists are just as humane as anyone. They give to charity, do volunteer work, help out people in need.
They see themselves as compassionate people.
What they haven't done is ponder mass deportations in anything but the comfortably abstract. What would it be like in reality? Shocking, even to them. If America started aggressively rounding up all the illegal immigrants, support for that course of action would fall precipitously from its current level. Some folks would change their minds after seeing the screaming, tearful families on the news; others when they realized that their dry cleaner or gardener or neighbor or co-worker was secretly undocumented. There would literally be millions of heart-wrenching stories.