John Gibson hosted a discussion about Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's effort to allow state police to detain illegal immigrants, but no one on the show mentioned a recent report saying Romney used a landscaping company that relies heavily on illegal immigrants.
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On the December 4 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson hosted League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) executive director Brent Wilkes and Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, for a discussion about a recently reached deal between Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) and federal authorities to allow state police to detain illegal immigrants. But no one on the show mentioned that the deal came at "a sensitive time for the governor," in the words of The Boston Globe on December 3. The Globe broke the story on December 1 that Romney, a potential candidate for president in 2008 and an outspoken critic of illegal immigration, used a landscaping company that relies heavily on illegal immigrants to maintain grounds surrounding his home in Belmont, Massachusetts. According to the Globe, the landscaping company's owner, Ricardo Saenz, "said he met Romney through the Mormon Church and said Romney has used his company's services for a decade." The Globe added that "Saenz said Romney never asked him if his workers are legal immigrants."
As the Globe reported on December 3:
Romney's new agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement comes at a sensitive time for the governor, who has been sharpening his views on immigration as he prepares a probable run for the presidency in 2008. In September, Romney told Fox TV's "The O'Reilly Factor" that the border must be secured, and affirmed his support for the construction of a fence along the Mexican border.
Last week, however, the Globe reported that illegal immigrants had maintained the grounds around Romney's home in Belmont, as workers for a lawn service company Romney had employed. Romney said after the report that he had dealt only with the owner of the company, Ricardo Saenz, a legal immigrant from Colombia.
In addition, a December 3 Associated Press article on Romney's deal and Massachusetts Gov.-elect Deval Patrick's (D) response to it also mentioned Romney's reported use of illegal immigrants to landscape his home:
Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, called on Patrick to rescind the policy. Noorani said it would heighten existing distrust between immigrants and police and would have a chilling effect on the reporting of crimes such as domestic violence because those reporting crimes could fear detention themselves.
"We have reached out to the (Patrick) administration and made our concerns clear," Noorani said.
Noorani also accused Romney of hypocrisy in the wake of a Boston Globe report last week that illegal immigrants worked on the crew that manicured the grounds of his mansion in Belmont.
"His family directly benefited from the labor of undocumented immigrants," Noorani said.
Romney has said he was unaware illegal workers were employed by the yard service he hired.
From the December 4 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:
GIBSON: It is the big issue today: State troopers will soon be able to legally arrest illegals in Massachusetts. Outgoing Governor Mitt Romney made the deal with the feds after months of negotiations. Right now, troopers can only detain people for violations of their immigration status if the federal government asks them to.
The state's incoming governor says he promises to review the policy when he takes office in January. So will everyone start turning undocumented workers in now? Let's ask the toughest sheriff in America, Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- he sent out his own posse a while ago to catch illegals -- and Brent Wilkes, the national executive director of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens. Brent Wilkes, let me start with you. This decision by Governor Romney surprise you?
WILKES: It doesn't surprise us. Obviously, he's gotten an eye on the presidential campaign. He's doing this as an outgoing governor. He's really not doing it for his own governorship, but he's trying to make some political points with some conservative folks that he thinks might be able to put him over the top for the Republican presidential nomination.
GIBSON: Joe Arpaio, is this an effective thing to do?
ARPAIO: Well, first of all, I commend the governor, because I met with him several times and know his stance against illegal immigration. He's at least one person who's doing something about it. By the way, I'm ready to sign an agreement on the same issue, but I want 200 of my officers trained to be able to lock up illegal immigrants.
Right now, I'm the only law-enforcement agency arresting smugglers and the smuglees under a new felony law. So we put 361 in jail so far. So it's going to work. They're not coming through Maricopa County anymore because they're afraid they're going to end up in jail.
GIBSON: Brent, you know, I know that LULAC is in the business of sticking up for the rights of Hispanics and immigrants. But this is the law. They are breaking the law coming into the country. So what is the problem with anybody, whether it's Governor Romney or Sheriff Arpaio, with enforcing the law?
WILKES: Well, it is the law, but should be enforced by the appropriate agency in charge of enforcing the law. In this case, that's the Border Patrol. It's their job, and the folks over at ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], to enforce immigration law. It's not the job of local sheriffs to do that. The fact is --
GIBSON: Well, who says?
WILKES: -- if you do have -- if you do have local sheriffs involved in immigration enforcement, that's going to put a chilling effect -- no one will come to them. If they're in a questionable documented status, they won't report crime, and they won't participate in support --
ARPAIO: Oh, that's garbage.