Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich took a stance on immigration not shared by his GOP rivals this week when he said that the nation needed to deal with the issue in a softer manner.

In the Nov. 22 GOP debate, Gingrich, former congressman from Georgia and a one-time Speaker of the House, asked for “humane” treatment for law-abiding illegal immigrants who have been living in the United States for years.

“I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter-century,” he said during the CNN debate.

“I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, `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,’’’ he continued.

Those comments have already drawn the ire of conservative pundits and political analysts who say he may take a hit in the polls.

“Newt did himself significant harm tonight on immigration among caucus and primary voters,” Tim Albrecht, deputy chief of staff to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, tweeted.

Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee President William Gheen was especially critical of Gingrich’s stance saying he will take a plunge similar to Texas Gov. Rick Perry after he supported in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

“Newt Gingrich’s campaign will now take the ‘Perry Plunge’ due to his support for Dream Act Amnesty,” Gheen said in a statement. “Newt Gingrich is finished!

“We are waiting to hear one of these GOP candidates give the correct answer to the immigration question,” Gheen continued. “The correct answer is a pledge to adequately enforce America’s existing border and immigration laws period!”