Giuliani and Immigration issue

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Apr 24 14:35:54 UTC 2007

Immigration and America's Mayor: Who is He?

*Tuesday , April 24, 2007*
By Father Jonathan Morris

"America's Mayor" Rudolph Giuliani is leaning on one credential to move him
into the White House: his no-nonsense approach to government.

He could point to his unprecedented cleanup of New York City streets, or his
wildly successful post 9-11 leadership. But then again, who needs the
reminder? He did it. We saw it. We know it.

Immigration reform would seem to be a perfect match for his skills. It is
the poster child for government bureaucracy and a point of increasing shame
for both parties.

But not even the no-nonsense mayor wants to touch it, and I think he's
making a big mistake.

Yesterday, an article in *The New York Times* highlighted the contrast
between *Mayor* Giuliani and *presidential candidate* Giuliani's language,
if not philosophy, about what to do about the various facets of immigration.

*Mayor* Giuliani was convinced that immigrants (mostly illegal) played an
essential role in his city's economy. He advocated for $12 million to start
a city agency that would assist those already here in the process of
becoming citizens. He rejected calls for a change in city policy that would
allow police and hospital workers to check a person's immigration status. He
even publicly condemned new anti-immigration movements, comparing them in
1996 to past discriminatory movements like the Chinese Exclusionary Act and
the Know Nothing Movement. "These were movements that encouraged Americans
to fear foreigners, to fear something that is different, and to stop

*Presidential candidate* Giuliani doesn't talk like that anymore. At least
for the time-being, he is relying on generic buzz phrases that sit well with
large swaths of his Republican constituency — "no amnesty," "a nation of
laws," and "border control."

His favorite campaign line is indicative of the fence-straddling game he is
trying to play. Referring to Abraham Lincoln, he often says, "He made a
beautiful speech in which he said the best American is not the American who
has been here the longest or the one who just arrived. It is the one who
understands the principles of America the best because we are a country held
together by ideas."

As a policy slogan, that's about as vague and weak as you can get. It's hard
to believe it's coming from a presidential candidate whose principle
credential is his no-nonsense approach to government.

I think Mr. Giuliani, in theory, gets immigration reform better than most
candidates. When he follows up his tough guy rhetoric with promises to
welcome immigrants willing to learn the language, respect the culture, and
follow the law, he is winking to the rest of the nation that a hawkish
policy of mass deportation and the building of thousands of miles of fence
is neither practical nor ethical, given our long-standing policy of
hypocrisy. For years, we have poured billions into border enforcement while
simultaneously allowing the hiring of millions of illegal immigrants to keep
the country going.

The problem for Mr. Giuliani is that immigration reform theory is no longer
enough. Pandering to the hard-liners will get him a lot of votes in the
primary, but given his much more moderate record on immigration, it won't
convince the country he is going to translate campaign talk into policy of
any type in Washington.

It will be hard enough for Mr. Giuliani to convince the country that we
should vote for a Republican who believes in public funding for abortion and
homosexual marriage. But if he isn't even willing to use his one outstanding
credential in order to outline a fair and effective strategy to fix
immigration policy, what is he banking on? More importantly, is "America's
Mayor" fit to be America's president?

He still has time to surprise us. President Bush and some members of
congress have tried to pass legislation that recognizes the real
contribution of immigrants to our economy and culture, while at the same
time abolishing the rampant disrespect for law that our hypocritical system
promotes. For various reasons, to date they have failed.

Nobody wants to say it, but an effective strategy necessarily will include
encouraging the undocumented to come out of the shadows with an offer of
eventual legal status (from the back of the line), regularizing immigration
flows, and an interior crackdown on infringing employers and employees. The
big fear, of course, is the cost of increased wages and benefits for the
newly-documented workers.

Do we want change? This will be the cost … and I think Mr. Giuliani knows
it. He also knows that in moments of crisis, the long term benefits of
starting over and rebuilding an environment of legality, harmony, and
respect for life far outweigh the price tag of reconstruction.

*God Bless, Father Jonathan
*• E-mail <FatherJonathan at> Father Jonathan,2933,267869,00.html

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