Rudy and Immigration - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Rudy and Immigration

Rudy Giuliani framed immigration as a national security issue this morning at a conference sponsored by the Latino Coalition and held at the Four Seasons in Georgetown.

During his speech, Giuliani spent much of his time making the points that have now become a part of his standard stump speech: staying on offense against terrorism, cutting taxes, reducing government spending, reforming healthcare through the free market, supporting free trade, and achieving energy independence.  But not surprisingly given the audience, much of his speech was devoted to laying out his philosophy on immigration.

Giuliani has come under fire from conservatives who see his support for sanctuary laws in New York City as evidence that will be lax on illegal immigration as president. What's become apparent is that he will attempt to leverage his credentials on security to build a  consensus on the contentious issue.

After speaking about the threat of terrorism, Giuliani said that we needed to view illegal immigration within the national security context. He said if we have 12 million people here illegally, it's challenging to separate those who just came here to work from those who came here to sell drugs or plot terrorist attacks–like looking for "a needle in a haystack." That's why he supports increased border security, and he came out in favor of a physical fence in addition to a technological fence, and an improved border patrol force. He said he supports allowing those who are just here to work to come forward, pay taxes, and be put on a path to citizenship after learning English, paying fines, etc. And he said we need to document them and give them tamper proof IDs and enter them into a database so we know who is in the country. This is not the same as amnesty, he insisted, although I'm sure many conservatives would argue that this is precisely amnesty. But his point was that if we reduce the number of undocumented immigrants to a more manageable number, it will be easier to identify the bad guys and kick them out.

Giuliani said his view was formed when he was mayor of New York City, which at the time had an estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants, and the federal government could only deport about 2,000 a year. He was frustrated that instead of deporting known criminals, the feds were focused on a restaurant worker, a professor who overstayed his visa, etc. In a very Rudy-like moment that drew laughter from the audience, he described telling the federal government officials, "I've got drug dealers here, pal!"   

The fact that Giuliani took time out of his campaign schedule to address this particular audience indicates that he intends to build support within the Latino community, which is a large and growing voting block. The chairman of the Latino Coalition said that the group had extended invitations to all of the candidates in both parties, but that Giuliani was the only candidate who accepted. During his speech, Giuliani noted that his support among Latino voters grew each time he ran for mayor, peaking at about 50 percent in his 1997 landslide.

During the speech, he also condemned Hugo Chavez. When speaking with reporters afterwards he was asked how he reconciles that with the fact that Houston law firm Bracewell and Giuliani, where he is a partner, has lobbied for a U.S.-subsidiary of Citgo, which is essentially controlled by Chavez. Giuliani responded that the oil company the law firm represents employs 4,000 people in Texas and indirectly 135,000 people throughout the U.S., and those jobs would be in jeopardy if the company didn't receive adequate legal representation. He said the firm represents the company in a "legal, lawful, ethical way" and that there was no conflict of interest. "I am perfectly free to say what I want, how I want to say it, and I do, about Chavez. And I don't think there's anybody who is more outspoken about how dangerous I think he is."

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