Romney ad raps ‘sanctuary cities’; GOP rival fires back at criticism
Mitt Romney on Aug. 21 began running a radio ad blasting New York and other cities for protecting the identity of illegal aliens, stepping up a feud with fellow presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
“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,” charges the new ad, being run in Iowa and New Hampshire. The ad says that if elected, Mr. Romney will deny some federal funds to cities that maintain sanctuary policies.
But Mr. Giuliani’s camp says it’s an odd line of attack against Mr. Giuliani, who as mayor tried to get the federal government to deport dangerous illegal aliens.
The fight piggybacks on news that one man charged in the executionstyle killings of three Newark, N.J., college students is an illegal alien who had been indicted earlier this year for two felonies, including rape of a child, but was released without federal immigration authorities being alerted.
Newark is one of a number of “sanctuary cities” that prevent officials from asking the immigration status of those they come in contact with. Those policies are now coming under scrutiny.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Romney sparred through highpowered surrogates — The top Republicans on the House Homeland Security and Judiciary committees weighed in on the two men’s records.
Rep. Peter King of New York, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, in a column in The Washington Times, criticized “the utter hypocrisy” of Mr. Romney’s attack, arguing the governor showed little interest in the issue until the end of his single term in office and that the illegal-alien population “boomed” in Massachusetts during those four years.
But Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Romney did far more — including denying driver’s licenses to illegal aliens and authorizing the state’s National Guard to deploy to the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the waning days of his governorship, after his Democratic successor had been elected, Mr. Romney also signed an agreement with the federal government to have state police troopers trained to enforce federal immigration law. But new Gov. Deval L. Patrick rescinded that policy before it took effect.
Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Mr. Giuliani, said that means Mr. Romney is “touting a policy that didn’t go anywhere,” and pointed to four Massachusetts cities that had sanctuary policies during Mr. Romney’s time in office. Mr. Romney did noth- ing to dock their funding — the solution he now says he would follow as president.
But Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mr. Romney, said the cities are flouting federal law, not state law, so it’s not valid to compare his time as governor to what he would do as president.
“The governor of New York didn’t enact or embrace ‘sanctuary city’ policies — the mayor of New York City did,” Mr. Madden said.
“The distinction on this issue is Governor Romney taking action against these policies, while other candidates implemented, embraced and are now defending ‘sanctuary city’ policies,” he said. “Major, major difference.”