Romney v. Giuliani: The Immigration Debate Takes a New Turn

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When I was traveling with Rudy Giuliani a couple of weeks ago, I asked him what he thought of Mitt Romney’s increasingly frequent digs at “sanctuary cities.” He professed to be mystified, even a little flattered:

“New York city is the safest large city in America. … So it must be doing a pretty good job of creating order and safety and decency–at least as well as a city can do it. … You have to look at an overall city and , somehow, the city that’s the safest large city in America must be doing something right in the way it is governed.”

But that was before the arrest of an illegal immigrant from Peru in the horrifying execution-style killings of three college students in Newark, and the scrutiny it has brought to that city’s policy of not disclosing the immigration status of crime suspects. One-issue candidateTom Tancredo even went so far as to say “Newark and its political leadership share a degree of culpability,” if Jose Lachira Carranza, who had a long criminal record, turns out to be guilty.

Could there be any doubt whom Mitt Romney is aiming at in his new radio ad?:

ANNOUNCER: “Immigration laws don’t work if they’re ignored.

“That’s the problem with cities like Newark, San Francisco and New York City that adopt sanctuary policies.

“Sanctuary cities become magnets that encourage illegal immigration and undermine secure borders.

“As Governor, Mitt Romney didn’t wait on Washington. He acted to make our immigration laws work.

“Mitt Romney is the exceptional Governor who took a stand so State Police could enforce federal immigration laws.

“Mitt Romney said ‘No’ to drivers’ licenses for those here illegally.

“Mitt Romney insisted on teaching our kids in English.

“And as President, Mitt Romney will cut back federal funds to cities that provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants.”

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: “Legal immigration is great. But illegal immigration, that we’ve got to end. And amnesty is not the way to do it.”

But Giuliani isn’t advocating amnesty. And it’s important to remember that public safety was precisely the reason that cities implemented these so-called sanctuary policies. Here’s how Giuliani explained it in a 1996 speech:

There are times when undocumented immigrants must have a substantial degree of protection.

For example, parents fearful of having their family deported may very well not send their children to public schools.

That could mean that a potential 70,000 to 80,000 undocumented children might remain hidden in apartments or be turned out on the streets.

And some of these children are citizens — born in the U.S. — even though their parents were not.

If their parents take them out of school, not only will these children suffer irreversible damage, they will most likely end up doing damage to the rest of society.

Similarly, illegal and undocumented immigrants should be able to seek medical help without the threat of being reported.

When these people are sick, they’re just as sick and just as contagious as citizens… and could possibly become a danger to public health.

And everyone should understand the practicality of wanting undocumented immigrants to feel comfortable reporting criminals to the police.

Reporting criminals protects all people, citizens and non-citizens alike.

It makes absolutely no sense to create a dis-incentive for immigrants to report crimes.

And as the Boston Globe points out, Cambridge–a city in Romney’s own home state–was one of the earliest to implement the policy. Somehow, that one didn’t make the list in Romney’s new ad.

UPDATE: From a Giuliani aide:

“Governor Romney’s ad conveniently forgets that his trooper plan that never took effect did absolutely nothing to cut down on the number of illegals working in his yard. Let’s hope is plan to secure the borders is more effective than that.”