Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has accused fellow GOP presidential contender Rudolph W. Giuliani of operating a “sanctuary city” while New York mayor. Presumably, Giuliani waved illegal aliens into Gotham, like a third-base coach urging runners home ahead of a mighty outfielder’s throw. In fact, Giuliani was tougher on illegal immigrants than Romney claims. Conversely, Romney was easier on illegals than his current hard-line posture suggests.
In last month’s now-notorious CNN/YouTube debate, Romney quoted Giuliani: “If you come here, and you work hard, and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you’re one of the people that we want in this city.” Romney conveniently omitted this sentence from Giuliani’s June 1994 press-conference remarks:
And if you’re somebody who comes here, and you want to violate the drug laws, the laws against violence, the laws to protect us in other ways, then I’d like to see you apprehended and put in prison and then sent back to where you came from.
Among New York’s 400,000 illegals, the feds deported 776 in 1994. With the Clinton administration spurning expulsions, Giuliani did the best he could.
Giuliani reaffirmed former mayor Ed Koch’s August 7, 1989, executive order that let illegal aliens report crimes without risking ejection. New York suffered 1,946 homicides and 600,346 serious crimes in 1993, the year Giuliani was elected. Thus, he wanted illegals, like everyone else, to identify criminals.
Illegals similarly could receive emergency medical care. If not, they would be left untreated, with some infecting others. Back then, people as distinguished as former New York Post editor Pete Hamill contracted tuberculosis within Gotham. Contagion was a genuine danger.
Illegals also could send children to public schools. Alternatively, some 70,000 kids would roam local sidewalks, attract criminals, and possibly commit crimes themselves.
At the November 28 debate, American Spectator columnist Philip Klein observed, Romney simultaneously excoriated and embraced Giuliani’s policy. “We’re not going to give you benefits,” Romney said of illegals, “other than those required by law, like health care and education…”
Giuliani’s anti-crime campaign otherwise targeted illegal-alien offenders.
“We’d like to see a situation in which we can put ’em on a plane and charge INS for the ticket,” Katie Lapp, Giuliani’s criminal-justice coordinator, told Newsday’s Mitch Gelman in November 1994. “It’s the mayor’s position that INS should increase border patrols and keep these people out of the country in the first place.”
INS never approved what Newsday dubbed “Air Giuliani.” In April 1994, however, Giuliani restored alerts to INS whenever police arrested illegal-alien criminal suspects. In January 1993, INS claimed it lacked the resources to pursue such reports and asked Democratic mayor David Dinkins to stop making them.
(Evidence for Giuliani’s cooperation with the INS dates back at least to 1981, when he was Ronald Reagan’s No. 3 man at the Justice Department.)
Giuliani’s prompt action sharply contrasts with Romney, who waited until 18 days before leaving office to secure federal permission for state troopers to arrest illegal aliens. Actually, this program never commenced. As promised, Romney’s Democratic successor, Governor Deval Patrick, scrapped it before troopers began relevant training.
Romney’s immigration record was ho-hum long before this 11th-hour initiative. Beyond opposing drivers’ licenses and in-state college tuition for illegals, Romney’s failures helped keep Massachusetts attractive to them. In June 2005, the Pew Hispanic Center’s Jeffrey Passel designated Massachusetts a New Large State for illegal aliens. Between 200,000 and 250,000 unauthorized migrants lived there from 2002 to 2004.
It may be a private matter that illegal aliens raked Romney’s lawn as recently as November 29. But Romney’s administration should have scrutinized state employees more carefully. Among nine Massachusetts public-works sites examined in the June 18, 2006 Boston Globe, 38 percent of weekly wage-earners (100 of 262) lacked valid Social Security numbers. At one University of Massachusetts masonry project, Jonathan Saltzman and Yvonne Abraham reported “nearly two-thirds of the contractor’s 87 workers had bogus or questionable Social Security numbers.” Some belonged to dead people. One jail-construction worker offered this unusual Social Security number: 666-66-6666.
“The governor is not surprised that our current immigration laws are a mess,” Romney’s gubernatorial spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom shrugged.
“New York has never officially declared itself a ‘sanctuary city,’” the AP’s Jim Davenport concluded. However, Brewster, Brookline, Cambridge, Lexington, Orleans, and Somerville, Massachusetts did exactly that. Romney let these six sanctuary cities openly flout federal immigration laws.
“I’m not going to break the trust we have built up with the immigrant community to enforce the misguided policies of the federal government,” Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said in the July 6 Somerville News.
In May 2006, Cambridge’s City Council officially abandoned the words “illegal” and “aliens” and officially adopted “undocumented” and “immigrants.”
Romney could have pressured or sued these cities to become non-sanctuaries. He also could have slashed their allowances. Instead, as local officials mocked federal immigration authorities, state tax dollars cascaded into their collective coffers.
Romney’s proposed assistance to these locales grew from $103,218,421 in Fiscal Year 2004 to $107,419,246 in FY 2007 — up 4.1 percent.
Did Romney challenge these sanctuary cities? Despite repeated requests, the Romney campaign declined to offer proof that it did so. Did those on the ground witness anti-sanctuary exertions by Romney?
“Absolutely not,” Cambridge mayoral spokesman John Clifford laughed. “He never took on Cambridge, except out of state.”
“Romney’s being a hypocrite on this issue,” Somerville’s Joseph Curtatone told ABC News. “I did not receive a mandate, any communication, anything at all from him about this. If it’s so important to him, why didn’t he have the state police enforcing it?”
– Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.