Mitt Romney's spokesman, Kevin Madden, is hitting Rudy Giuliani over the former mayor's claim, highlighted in a new South Carolina radio ad, that he tried to get the INS to help him fight illegal immigration.
"There is a very substantive and relevant contrast between Governor Romney and Mayor Giuliani on this,' said Madden. "It goes to the heart of the question on this which is when you talk to voters who really care about immigration, the number one priority is enforcement. They want to know that you are going to enforce existing laws."
Madden then made the case that Giuliani, whose record as a law-and-order mayor has been invaluable to him in appealing to conservative voters, failed to enforce the law of the land.
"Now the contrast is there with the record that Mayor Giuliani has on the issue. The statements couldn't have been more clear where Mayor Giuliani said 'if you are an undocumented worker, if you are an illegal immigrant, we want you here.' That is essentially ignoring or showing disdain for the enforcement of immigration laws. Those type of policies created a magnet for illegal immigration. That magnet caused a 3 million illegal immigration problem to go to 12 million very quickly."
And while Giuliani is running on the premise that he turned New York around, Madden tried to portray the city as what he called an "oasis" for illegal immigrants, the adverse effects of which, he said, spread across the country.
"Those types of policies, whether you are officially declared a sanctuary city or not, end up putting a very difficult strain on our enforcement efforts," said Madden. "If you essentially have a mayor saying 'if you come here we will provide an oasis of amnesty, what does that say to the border agent?"
Madden said that Romney, when he was governor, deputized state police to work with federal agents to enforce immigration laws, refused to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigration, and vetoed legislation which would have provided in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
In response, the Giuliani campaign put former deputy mayor Randy Mastro on the phone. (It seems that Mastro is taking a more visible role in the campaign, speaking for the Giulianis on CNN to respond to the Vanity Fair piece about Judith Giuliani and now acting as point-man in the immigration debate.)
"We have a word here in New York for what Mitt Romney is trying to do here — it is called chutzpah. Mitt Romney as Governor of Massachusetts had three sanctuary cities in his state. And he rewarded them $320 million in state aid. That stands in sharp contrast to the program that we had here in New York City under a longstanding executive order that went back over 16 years before Rudy Giuliani became mayor that recognized we have more than 400,000 aliens here. And that was in fact a policy that promoted public safety and public health.
Mastro said the policy " permitted aliens to come forward with information about those committing crimes and it required local authorities to then cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of aliens suspected of committing crimes."
He added, "It was one of the many polices that helped reduce crime in the city and changed us from being the nations' crime capital to being the safety large city in America."
Madden's comments come on the day when Peter King, the Long Island congressman and Giuliani surrogate, wrote in a Washington Times editorial: "While the new Mitt Romney, campaigning for president, insists he is the candidate best credentialed to control this country's problem of illegal immigration, many of you may remember that under Mr. Romney, the illegal-immigrant population boomed in the commonwealth, illegal immigrants performed the former governor's yardwork and sanctuary cities in Massachusetts went unchecked."