Newt Gingrich's plan for letting some illegal aliens become citizens got its start in Colorado

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Newt Gingrich is taking heat for the comment he made during this week's Republican debate on a possible path to citizenship for some illegal aliens. And that path starts at a foundation based at a horse ranch in Parker and run by Helen Krieble, profiled in our 2006 cover story, "Guest Wishes.""We need a guest-worker program, badly, to eliminate all these illegal people who are coming in here," Krieble told Westword. "Then we wouldn't need that damn fence that they're building on the border."

During the CNN debate, Gingrich name-checked the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation, which is pushing "smart cards" that would allow workers that pass certifications to work in the U.S. legally, and whose work he cited in his book Real Change: The Fight for America's Future. "They could get what the Krieble Foundation developed as a 'red card' and be legal, but with no path to citizenship and no right to vote," he said at Tuesday's debate. "I do believe if you've been here recently and have no ties to the U.S., we should deport you. I do believe we should control the border. I do believe we should have very severe penalties for employers, but I would urge all of you to look at the Krieble Foundation Plan."

Instead, his competitors focused on what they saw as another chink in Gingrich's increasingly thick armor. Michele Bachmann came out swinging, saying his immigration plan would legalize 11 million aliens.

"This is explicitly false," Gingrich told Fox News yesterday. "I am for deporting all recent unattached illegals. I am for a local citizen panel to consider certification of those who have been here 25 years and have family and community and have been law-abiding and tax-paying."

Four years ago, when Tom Tancredo made his run for the presidency, illegal immigration was a a far more frequent discussion topic on the campaign trail. "It's finger-pointing rather than solution-oriented," Krieble said at the time, "so it's time that ordinary people step up and say, 'Look, doing nothing is not acceptable anymore, the American people want an answer and here is one.' Why don't they start talking about a solution? We need a lot of voices saying this instead of yelling and blaming."

Four years later, though, the yelling and blaming continue.

Talking with Fox yesterday, Gingrich added, "Let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families." For a look at the work of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation that has gotten Newt Gingrich in hot water -- again -- read "Guest Wishes" here.

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