No Sanctuary For Rudy
Somewhere, John McCain must be smiling.
After watching his own campaign suffer badly over his support for comprehensive immigration reform, the Arizona senator can now watch from the sidelines as his two main rivals in the race turn their immigration fire on each other. On the campaign trail last week, Mitt Romney criticized Rudy Giuliani for some of his policies toward undocumented residents as New York mayor. Giuliani instructed city employees not to report to federal immigration authorities any undocumented residents who were seeking to enroll in schools, get medical care or report a crime. Giuliani, Romney charged, "instructed city workers not to provide information to the federal government that would allow them to enforce the law. New York City was the poster child for sanctuary cities in the country."
Giuliani has fought back by continuing to talk up his proposals for tighter border security and other ways in which he's seeking to establish himself as tough on illegal immigration. Today, his campaign launched a radio ad that takes the Romney attack head on by casting Giuliani's mayoralty in a distinctly different light.
In the 60-second ad, titled "Fence," Giuliani recalls the difficulty the city had in getting federal authorities to deport illegal immigrants who had committed crimes in New York.
"It frustrates me that if someone comes here illegally, in addition to everything else that's involved in that, if they commit a crime, we don't throw them out of the country," Giuliani says in the ad. "As the mayor of New York, I wanted to see if I could get the Immigration Service to help me. Let's see if you could get rid of the drug dealers who are coming out of jail. It makes no sense -- after they have been in jail for selling drugs in the United States -- we now have to keep them in the United States. They couldn't do it because they had other people lined up to throw out."
It's a clever approach, because it focuses voters' attention on one aspect of Giuliani's immigration approach in New York that foes of illegal immigration could take heart in -- he did complain about the bureaucratic delays and dysfunction that kept illegal immigrants convicted of crimes from being deported. Left unsaid, though, is that Giuliani made those complaints in the context of defending his administration's policy of not reporting illegal immigrants seeking city services, a policy that was instituted by then-mayor Ed Koch in 1988 and repeatedly challenged by federal officials. As Giuliani put it in a 1995 press conference, "So before there are obligations placed on [the city] to turn over the names of children in school or their parents or people who use public hospitals, I'd like to see the Immigration and Naturalization Service dealing with people who commit crimes."
It is worth noting that, despite Romney's insinuation, New York never officially declared itself a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants as did other cities, such as San Francisco. But as Giuliani sells himself to GOP primary voters, he does have to contend with a lengthy record of pragmatism on immigration that might not go over well with many voters in key early voting states like Iowa and South Carolina. In his first year as mayor in 1994, he said of illegal immigrants: "If you come here, and you work hard, and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you're one of the people who we want in this city." Defending the city's policy of not reporting illegal immigrants seeking city services, he said in 1996, "What's the best thing to do about that? Put them in a situation in which they keep children out of school? Put them in a situation in which they don't go to hospitals? Or put them in a situation in which they don't report crimes to the police?" Of educating the kids of illegal immigrants, he said, "The reality is that they're here, and they're going to remain here."
Romney is trying to draw attention to this record, saying that this accommodationist approach to illegal immigrants in big cities like New York only encouraged more people to cross the border. But his record is also open to criticism: he employed illegal immigrants to work at his house (he says he did not know their status) and there were several sanctuary cities operating in Massachusetts during his tenure as governor, the largest being Cambridge.
Meanwhile, there is Mike Bloomberg, Giuliani's successor as mayor and a possible presidential contender himself, reminding the world (probably to Giuliani's chagrin) that New York remains a haven for immigrants, legal and not, and that this has generally been something only to be welcomed by New York mayors. Asked this week about New York's status an unofficial sanctuary for illegal immigrants, Bloomberg said, "Let 'em come...I can't think of any laboratory that shows better why you need a stream of immigrants then New York City."
Posted by: infinity555 | August 18, 2007 11:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Diogenes | August 16, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: stevereal007 | August 15, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Stokeybob | August 15, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jprice1 | August 15, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.