- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 12, 2007

AMES, Iowa — Newt Gingrich yesterday urged President Bush to call Congress back immediately into an emergency session to pass a law ending “sanctuary city” policies that many communities use to shield illegal aliens from detection and deportation.

Mr. Gingrich said the issue is so dire that Congress should be forced to cut its summer vacation short and act after reports this week that an illegal alien out on bail is charged with last week’s killing of three college students in New Jersey.

“Young Americans should not be killed by people who should not legally be in the United States in the first place,” Mr. Gingrich told Republicans gathered in Ames, Iowa, for the Iowa Republican Party straw poll, the first test of who has the money, message and organizing strength to win the party’s presidential nomination.

“The president should call the Congress back in for a three-day special session to pass a very simple law,” said Mr. Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House, who is considering a run for president.

Immigration was arguably the dominant issue at the straw poll. Every candidate there yesterday touched on the issue, ranging from Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback’s brief call for border security and workplace enforcement up to Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo’s campaign, which is powered mostly by his opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson yesterday pledged to complete the 854 miles of fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border within six months of taking office, while Mr. Tancredo and Mr. Hunter both pledged to pardon two U.S. Border Patrol agents serving 11- and 12-year sentences for shooting a fleeing illegal alien drug dealer.

Mr. Gingrich had the boldest new idea, proposing an emergency session for Congress to pass a law that would require every state and municipality to verify the legal status of anyone arrested for a felony. He said states and localities that refuse should lose all federal aid.

Peruvian national Jose Carranza, an illegal alien who was out on bail while awaiting trial on charges of raping a child, pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and one charge of attempted murder in Newark, N.J., stemming from execution-style killings this week.

Many Republicans criticized what they refer to as “sanctuary cities” — municipalities that have instructed their law enforcement officers not to ask the legal status of those they come in contact with, even when it involves serious felonies.

Mr. Tancredo said he would go even further than Mr. Gingrich if elected president, having his administration bring criminal charges against local officials who declare their municipalities to be sanctuary cities.

The pledge to pardon the two Border Patrol agents received strong applause, underscoring just how familiar voters here are with the ins and outs of the immigration issue and how deeply a get-tough approach resonates.

President Bush declined to say whether he is considering a pardon, but praised the prosecutor, Johnny Sutton, a friend of his from Texas, while White House officials defended Mr. Sutton’s case as thorough.

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