You got that right, Mark. Gingrich was in fact the mystery politician with whom I had this encounter two years ago.
They are clueless about immigration because they can be. As I noted in that piece:
With even illegal immigration a fringe issue, to speak of which with any vigor puts you under suspicion of being a twitchy Birchite nutcase, there is, as professional pols see it, no chance that they will ever have to engage seriously with the topic oflegal immigration. So why study up on it?
Immigration is not a matter of policy, on which different opinions can be expressed in candidate debates, chewed over by commentators, and decided on to the benefit of the nation. It is a hysterical cult that may be addressed only in vapid clichés.
And so we had President Obama boasting in his State of the Union gas-o-rama that: “In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs.” That’s nice: but with 125,000 work permits being given to foreigners every month, only 8 percent of those 3 million jobs went to American citizens. Where is the sense in that?
Huge numbers of Americans — 43 percent in Gallup’s June 2011 poll — want immigrant numbers decreased. Yet we can’t talk about it; candidates for the presidency know they will not be asked about it; so they don’t bother to inform themselves. Their ignorance is not (well, not always) a consequence of innate stupidity: it’s tactical and practical.
To quote myself again:
Hopeless, therefore, to observe that today’s immigration policy shapes the nation our children will inherit from us; that this should be a matter of consequence to us; and that a sensible nation would debate immigration policy keenly and often in its political forums. Hopeless too, probably, to engage in work like that of the CIS [Center for Immigration Studies], pegging away year after year in the teeth of a hostile commercial, intellectual, and academic establishment whose control of the public discourse is as seamlessly total as Kim Jong Il’s.
Kim Jong Il is no longer with us, but we’re still stuck with the same data-free, cliché-smothered elite consensus on immigration.
Three million new jobs, 92 percent of which went to non-citizens. And we can’t talk about it.