Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson says state and local police should help enforce federal immigration laws:
On a brief fundraising swing through Arizona, Thompson said it makes sense to have sworn officers working "in cooperation with the federal authorities."
"I've been places where they're working hand-in-glove," the former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" star said. "That's the ideal way to do it."
Thompson told reporters he's not concerned that putting local police in the position of trying to determine who is in this country illegally might lead to racial profiling "any more with that kind of cooperation than otherwise."
During the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate Thompson got in his licks by chiding former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani about what he said has been that city's "sanctuary" policies. CNN/YouTube question number 3 was posed was directed to Thompson:
Giuliani was allowed to respond:
Good evening. There are thousands of people in Canada and Mexico waiting to come to America legally. They want to become American citizens. They want to be part of the American dream. Yet, there are those in the Senate that want to grant amnesty for those that come here illegally.
Will you pledge tonight, if elected president, to veto any immigration bill that involves amnesty for those that have come here illegally?
Cooper: Senator Thompson?
Thompson: Yes, I pledge that. A nation that cannot and will not defend its own borders will not forever remain a sovereign nation. And it's unfair...
We have -- we have thousands of people standing in line at embassies around the world to become United States American citizens, to come here to get a green card, to come here and to assimilate and be a part of our culture. They are part of what has made our country great. Some of our better citizens. We all know them and love them.
Now, it's our country together -- their's and ours, now together. It's our home. And we now get to decide who comes into our home.
And to place somebody above them or in front of them in line is the wrong thing to do.
We've got to strengthen the border. We've got to enforce the border. We've got to punish employers -- employers who will not obey the law. And we've got to eliminate sanctuary cities and say to sanctuary cities, if you continue this, we're going to cut off federal funding for you, you're not going to do it with federal money.
Now, there are parts of what both of these gentlemen have just said that I would like to associate myself with.
First of all, of course, Governor Romney supported the Bush immigration plan until a short time ago. Now he's taken another position, surprisingly.
As far as Mayor Giuliani is concerned, I am a little surprised the mayor says, you know, everybody's responsible for everybody that they hire, but we'll have to address that a little bit further later. I think we've all had people probably that we have hired that in retrospect probably is a bad decision.
He did have a sanctuary city. In 1996, I helped pass a bill outlawing sanctuary cities. The mayor went to court to overturn it. So, if it wasn't a sanctuary city, I'd call that a frivolous lawsuit.
Giuliani: New York City was not a sanctuary city. New York City did three exceptions. The three exceptions were to allow children to go to school, to allow those illegal immigrants who were the victims of crime to report the person who assaulted them, beat them up, mugged them.McCain was asked to address the same question and came off as much more compassionate:
And third, to allow emergency care in the hospitals, which we were required to do by federal law. We had a policy of reporting every single illegal immigrant other than those three who commit any kind of crime or were suspected of crime, and we reported thousands of them to immigration service. Few of them were deported.
McCain: You know, this whole debate saddens me a little bit because we do have a serious situation in America. In 1986, we passed a law that said we would enforce our borders, and gave amnesty to a couple of million people. We gave the amnesty. Now we have 12 million people and still borders that are not enforced.I don't disagree with McCain. But I strongly agree with Fred. State and local police should help enforce immigration laws, we must control the border and end the sanctuary policies that some cities, such as New Haven and San Francisco have adopted.
I came to the Senate not to do the easy things, but to do the hard things. Mel Martinez and I knew this was going to be a tough issue, but we thought the status quo was unacceptable: broken borders; 12 million people here illegally; a need for a temporary worker program, certainly in my state in the agricultural section, certainly in this state of Florida.
And we tried to get something done. We said we'd enforce the borders. The American people didn't believe us. They don't believe us because of our failure in Katrina, our failure in Iraq, our failures in reining in corruption and out of control spending.
So we tried and we failed. And I appreciate the president's efforts. He comes from a border state too. And what we've learned is that the American people want the borders enforced. We must enforce the -- secure the borders first.
But then you've still got two other aspects of this issue that have to be resolved as well. And we need to sit down as Americans and recognize these are God's children as well.
And they need some protection under the law. And they need some of our love and compassion. [From the CNN/YouTube Republican debate transcript.]
You can watch the exchange between Thompson, Giuliani and McCain in the following video: