A project of the Center for Community Change

Will America Buy What Romney is Selling?

Fear is cheap. Hate may be cheaper. And Mitt Romney is having a discount sale on both. In recent “campaign ads” [I can think of some more appropriate words for them…] Mr. Romney has taken to using illegal immigration as a post on which to fly his flag for presidency. The suggestions that Newark and San Francisco’s policies of not allowing police to simply ask for the citizenship status of residents does not undermine our borders. It creates an environment in which police can better interact with immigrant communities, do their job effectively, and actually create a safer environment for us all.

Newark and San Francisco, and cities with similar policies, are not sanctuary cities, though that may be a common term for them that was once in vogue. Rather, they are cities that have made the wise decision to attempt to build a productive relationship between local law enforcement and immigrant communities in the name of public safety. By not making citizenship status the focus of public safety, police officers are better able to do their job in supporting victims and focusing on capturing criminals.

Mr. Romney goes further to say that our “Immigration laws don’t work if they’re ignored”. First, broken laws don’t work period. Millions of Americans and immigrants live our broken laws on a daily basis, and they understand that the root problem is not the ignorance of these laws, but rather the laws themselves. Second, cities like Newark and San Francisco are not ignoring laws (I believe that would be unconstitutional- like the anti-immigrant ordinances in Hazelton, PA). No, these cities are exercising their right to protect their communities from undo searches, and to maintain a safer city.

Mr. Romney accuses Rudy Giuliani of making New York a “safe haven” and thereby compromising the safety of the city. Now, I have not done an extensive research project on the subject, but I’ve recognized a few concurrent phenomena. According to a recent study, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities across the country have seen a rejuvenation in their populations (and thereby their economies and infrastructure), mainly due to influxes of immigrants. Over the same time period these cities have seen a decline in crime and an overall improvement in public safety. I cannot say these trends are related, but it does raise the question of whether policies that protect our communities from constant fear are actually a bad thing for a city as a whole.

Mr. Romney’s attack on cities that support their immigrant communities isn’t simply wrong, it’s fear-mongering and scape-goating. What would Mr. Romney do for education, for the health industry, or for you? Those questions should be the center of 08, not cheap, low blows.

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