A week after being assailed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for being soft on illegal immigration as mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani today unveiled the details of his plan to solve the United States' immigration problem. His campaign is aggressively pushing back on Romney's attack to paint their GOP rival as a hypocrite on this issue.
"We can end illegal immigration," Giuliani vowed to an audience of roughly 300 at a community center in Aiken, S.C., Tuesday morning. "I promise you, we can end illegal immigration."
Listed as one of his "12 commitments" to the American people, Giuliani promised to secure the borders and identify every noncitizen in the United States, noting the more than 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
"That's a lot of people to walk over your border without being identified," he said.
The two-term mayor proposed requiring the deportation of any illegal immigrant who commits a felony, building both a physical and a high-tech border fence, deploying a larger and better-trained border patrol, implementing a tamperproof identity card for all foreign workers and students with a single national database of noncitizens to track their status.
The core of Giuliani's policy will rely on the implementation of a system he calls BorderStat. The system would be modeled after New York City's CompStat program, which Giuliani's administration used to reduce crime by measuring which tactics are working effectively and which are not.
Illegal immigration is a hot-button issue among rank-and-file Republican voters, whose opposition to the bill supported by President Bush and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., contributed to its ignominious defeat in the U.S. Senate and McCain's current struggles on the campaign trail.
The unveiling of Giuliani's immigration policy comes just days after Romney said New York was "at the top of the list" of "sanctuary cities" in the Unites States and accused Giuliani of obstructing the nation's immigration laws while mayor.
A "sanctuary city" is a term of art for a municipality where city officials have decided not to deny city services such as hospitals or public schools to illegal immigrants, and absent other law enforcement concerns to not devote police resources to implementing federal immigration laws. Some cities officially declare themselves officially to be sanctuary cities, others – such as New York -- implement policies that afford them that designation.
During a Bettendorf, Iowa, campaign stop, Romney said that Giuliani "said this was going to be a city with protection, it would provide protection for illegals…He instructed city workers not to provide information to the federal government that would allow them to enforce the law. New York City was the poster child for sanctuary cities in the country and I think that's the wrong way to go."
"Frankly, that designation would not apply to New York City," responded Giuliani. "What you got to look at in fairness to is the overall results – and no city in terms of crime, safety, dealing with illegality of all different kinds has done a better job than New York City."
In 1996 while mayor, Giuliani sued the federal government for new provisions in federal immigration laws that would encourage government employees to turn in illegal immigrants seeking benefits from the city.