Lamenting GOP's "Restrictive View" of Illegal Immigrants

Republicans "railed against illegal immigrants" and push an "increasingly restrictive view." And "Giuliani is a long way from Ellis Island."

Former NYC mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is moving to the right on immigration to gain support among Republicans at the national level, and his old hometown paper doesn't approve.

Sunday's front-page story by Marc Santora and Sam Roberts ("Shifting Tone on Immigration, Candidate Giuliani Talks Tough") opened with a lament that "Rudolph W. Giuliani is a long way from Ellis Island.

"A decade ago, as mayor of New York, Mr. Giuliani used that historic backdrop to champion the cause of immigrants, calling attacks on people who came here legally a blow to 'the heart and soul of America.' And from City Hall he often defended illegal immigrants, ordering city workers not to deny them benefits and advocating measures to ease their path to citizenship."

"But now he is running for president, and the politics of immigration in the post-9/11 world is vastly different, with the issue splitting the Republican Party and voters peppering Mr. Giuliani on the campaign trail with questions about his current thinking. Perhaps more than any other candidate, Mr. Giuliani has a record on immigration with the potential to complicate his bid for the nomination.

How come immigration never "splits" the Democrats?

"In contrast to his years as mayor, when he fought federal efforts to curtail public hospital or educational services to illegal immigrants, he now talks of penalties for people here illegally and requirements for them to wait at the back of the line. And while he once pushed policies like providing schooling for the children of illegal immigrants by saying, 'The reality is that they are here, and they're going to remain here,' now he emphasizes denying amnesty."

Unflattering images aboundaboutother Republicans who take a harder line on immigration that does the Times.

"At the annual Lincoln Day dinner here last Saturday, Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, received some of the loudest applause from the 1,000 party loyalists in attendance as he railed against illegal immigrants.

"'We are destroying the concept of citizenship itself,' Mr. Tancredo said. 'America, and indeed Western civilization, are in a crisis.'

More unflattering word choices, and a questionable attempt topaint Bush as tough on illegal immigration."Like Mr. Bush, Mr. Giuliani emphasizes the need for tough border controls. He said he wanted to help those who are already in America become citizens, but he is quick to highlight that he is not in favor of amnesty, which leading Republican candidates dare not endorse.

"'First thing is, there should be no amnesty,' Mr. Giuliani said in response to a reporter's question in Atlanta recently. Amnesty means varying things to various candidates. For Mr. Giuliani, it means no blanket forgiveness of illegal status.

"Immigration has been a difficult issue for all the major Republican candidates, and they have responded to it in notably different ways.

"Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, was the only one of the three leading Republican contenders to mention the issue at the Lincoln Day dinner, pressing an increasingly restrictive view."