WASHINGTON – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the Democrats should work with Republicans to address the nation’s border security problems, including human trafficking, rather than “exploit children for the Democratic Party’s partisan benefit.”
Gingrich told PJM that Schumer was being his “usual destructive self” by refusing to support a permanent legislative solution to U.S. immigration authorities separating children from their parents when they are caught attempting to illegally enter the U.S.
“I hope Chuck Schumer will go along with solving the problem and not decide to exploit children for the Democratic Party’s partisan benefit,” Gingrich told PJM during an interview Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
PJM asked Gingrich if he thinks Melania and Ivanka Trump influenced Trump to sign the executive order that would require families detained at the border to be held together.
“I think President Trump as a father and grandfather knows that looking at pain in children is terrible, and I think he wanted to do the right thing. And I think it took him to realize it’s going to take change in the law and I think he’s clearly committed to changing the law,” he replied. “I think the person you should go interview is Chuck Schumer and ask him, is he really going to put Democratic politics above children?”
Trump’s executive action does not reverse the Department of Justice’s “zero-tolerance policy” that instituted sweeping prosecution under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), which “prohibits both attempted illegal entry and illegal entry into the United States by an alien.”
Schumer has argued that Trump “alone” should reverse the zero-tolerance policy rather than wait for Congress to pass an immigration reform bill that covers multiple issues such as DREAMers and border security. “Saying Congress can act, and getting Congress to act are two different things, particularly when on the House side we have a group of Congress members of the Freedom Caucus – way out of the mainstream by any polling standard, any real standard on immigration – insist poison pills be added to anything we do on immigration, and Speaker Ryan, thus far, has shown no, no ability or desire to resist them,” Schumer said Thursday on the Senate floor. “So Congress getting it done is not going to solve the problem, unfortunately, because immigration is such a contentious and divisive issue. The president has to do it himself, and let us hope he does.”
Gingrich called Schumer “just crazy” but “being his usual destructive self.”
The 2012 presidential candidate elaborated on his position during an interview with Fox News on Wednesday evening.
“After all, it’s a law passed by Congress which caused this mess plus two judicial decisions. The Congress ought to pass a law. We already have Sen. Schumer on the Democratic side basically saying he doesn’t want to pass a law. Yeah, he really worries about the children unless it means Donald Trump would win, at which point he doesn’t worry about the children because he can’t let Trump win,” he said.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis wrote, “A person’s dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity.”
In response to the Pope’s tweet, Gingrich said, “The emotional answer is simple but the emotional answer might not be right.”
Gingrich said that human trafficking is an issue that the pope, Trump and his wife Callista Gingrich, U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, all care about and some of the adults stopped with children at the U.S.-Mexico border are not parents.
“They are people bringing young girls and boys in this country, basically, to sell them into sexual slavery. Now, you can’t write a simple law that says we’re going to presume everybody’s innocent, nor should you write a law that presumes everybody is guilty,” Gingrich said. “The president, faced with a Congress which doesn’t seem to be functional, has issued an executive order to stop the most immediate problem, which was taking children away from their families so that’s no longer going to be the excuse for Democratic outrage.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said, “Trump’s executive order does not fix this crisis. It gives no solution for the thousands of children who have been torn away from their families and remain separated.”
Gingrich was asked for his reaction to Harris’ comments.
“We ought to have an honest conversation at some point about children. Is a 15, 16 or 17-year-old MS-13 gang member a child?” he said. “What Kamala Harris is for is open borders. If she was going to be intellectually honest she would say her policy is we don’t have to detain anybody, you want to come to America, come to America, she’s perfectly happy to have the country drowning in people.”
He continued, “Gallup once estimated 165 million people would come to the U.S. if they could get in, which would clearly just drown the entire civilization as we know it.”
When asked on Capitol Hill if he is concerned whether the controversy of separating families could damage the GOP, Gingrich replied, “I think it depends on what happens. If we try to pass something to preserve families and Chuck Schumer blocks it, then it’s Schumer, not us, who will have a problem.”
Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, campaign manager for Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, announced last week that he had left the Republican Party: “I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump,” he tweeted.
Gingrich shot back, “If my choice is the party of Trump or the party of Schmidt, I’m happy to be the party of Trump.”