In his Times column today, our friend and fellow Philly-boy David Brooks takes a look at a speech Rudy Giuliani gave as Mayor in 1996 on the subject of illegal immigration.
It was an interesting speech. Giuliani argued as to why city services should be available to those in the country illegally.
"(S)ome of these children are citizens -- born in the U.S. -- even though their parents were not," he said. "If their parents take them out of school, not only will these children suffer irreversible damage, they will most likely end up doing damage to the rest of society. Similarly, illegal and undocumented immigrants should be able to seek medical help without the threat of being reported. When these people are sick, they're just as sick and just as contagious as citizens ... and could possibly become a danger to public health.
"And everyone should understand the practicality of wanting undocumented immigrants to feel comfortable reporting criminals to the police. Reporting criminals protects all people, citizens and non-citizens alike. It makes absolutely no sense to create a dis-incentive for immigrants to report crimes. Muggers don't ask for a green card. the Federal Government should not mandate State and City policies that have the effect of reducing the number of undocumented immigrants reporting crimes."
To those citizens who ask, "Why should we pay to provide services for illegal immigrants?" Giuliani said, "It's not only to protect them, but to protect rest of society, as well."
This was a Giuliani whom Brooks liked. "This is why Giuliani won 43 percent of the Hispanic vote in the mayoral race of 1997. This is why his candidacy once had the potential to renovate the G.O.P.
"Of course it hasn’t turned out that way. At the moment, Giuliani and fellow moderate Mitt Romney are attacking each other for being insufficiently Tancredo-esque. They are not renouncing the policies they championed as city and state officials, but the emphasis as they run for federal office is all in the other direction. In effect, they are competing to drive away Hispanic votes and make the party unelectable in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Florida and the nation at large."
Brooks calls this "the greatest blown opportunity in recent political history."
We've covered a lot of this back-and-forth since Romney first sized upon this "sanctuary city" issue back in August and Giuliani began hitting back.
What's been interesting to me more recently is how another candidate -- former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- responds to hits from Romney on this.
Check out this excerpt from our interview.
TAPPER: Another issue that's going to come up, of course, is an issue that's very important to Iowa Republicans, and that's immigration. As governor, you supported the children of illegal immigrants being eligible for scholarships, and you also supported free prenatal care for those pregnant illegal immigrants who needed it. How do you make the argument to Iowans that those were the right decisions, when they're so mad about illegal immigration?
HUCKABEE: Well, people are mad about illegal immigration because it's illegal. They're made because the federal government has shown just how dysfunctional it is.
TAPPER: But weren't you enabling it?
HUCKABEE: The issue that we've got to deal with is that, if you have a federal government that never deals with a secure border and then fails to do anything about dealing with people when they get employed and they can get employed with false documents, the question is, why don't you secure the border, end the sanctuary cities and amnesty, which I would do? But I wouldn't punish the children who didn't commit a crime. You don't do that in this country. We have a long history of -- we penalize law-breakers. We don't penalize their children for something they can't help.
If a child is gasping for air, asthmatic, and he's on the hospital steps, what do the other candidates suggest we do, let him sit there and gasp until he doesn't have any air left and he dies? If a child comes to our school -- and our law, by the way, in most of our states, mine certainly says you've got to educate a child if he's of child age -- what do you, break your own law and say, "No, you can't come in the schoolhouse door"?
No, you don't do that. What you do is you elect a president who will fix the problem where it needs to be fixed: at the border. But if your government at the federal government is so incompetent that it fails to secure the border, you don't then grind your heel into the face of a 6-year-old child over it. That's not what this country does. We're a better country than that.
Now, if that causes people to say, 'Well, I'm not going to vote for him,' fine. There are plenty of candidates out there who I guess would grind their heel in the face of a 6-year-old child. Not me.
What do you think?