December 7th, 2007
04:48 PM ET
14 years ago

Romney: Not my fault illegal immigrants worked on home

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mitt Romney defended his anti-illegal immigration credentials Friday, telling CNN there was no gap between his tough enforcement rhetoric on the stump and recent reports that he continued to employ workers at his Massachusetts home who could not legally work in this country months after news accounts first revealed their status.

“I certainly have never proposed that homeowners have a responsibility when they hire a contractor to then go out and inquire of the company’s employees whether they happen to be legal or not,” the Republican presidential candidate told CNN’s Dana Bash after an Iowa campaign stop. “As a homeowner… that’s not something that’s available under the current system in this country.”

He added that that kind of verification was the responsibility of the companies themselves, and of the federal government.

When the former Massachusetts governor was asked if, as a presidential candidate, he should have made a special effort to ensure workers at his home were eligible to work in this country – gone the “extra mile” – he reacted angrily.

“And what’s the extra mile? … and you tell me how to do that in this country,” he said. “Let’s say I go to a restaurant, should I make sure that waiters there are all legal? How would I do that?”

Romney also told reporters that his Thursday speech on faith was not designed to address concerns among many evangelicals, who will form a major voting bloc in next month’s Iowa caucuses. “The speech was not about politics I don’t know how the politics work,” he said. “[I] don’t know what the implications are from a political standpoint” - although his own campaign sent out a release Friday noting the political impact of that speech.

- CNN’s Dana Bash contributed to this report

Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Jeff, Baltimore, MD

    Thank you, Curt, we agree with you. It's not up to the individual to check the status of every person we do business with in our life. None of us have the time to do this. Besides, the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has exploded in the last decade from 3 million to over 12 million. There are too many now to try to track, let alone find out if they are doing your lawn or not!

    Hopefully we can secure the borders so this trend doesn't continue and cause economic and social problems for legal immigrants and Americans.

    December 7, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. Cameron Albuquerque, NM

    I couldn't agree more. The Romney bashers have no viable alternatives to their blantant hypocrisy. As If Mr Romney were to check at the door each individual that worked on his home or that he ever did business with? Are you &*&%^ kidding me? This is ridiculous. These issues lie with the federal government and then the employers that decide to employ illegal immigrants, who happen to be humans, pretty decent ones at that. I'm amazed at the loathing of individuals who think a rich, handsome, solid individual who has morals that many of us could never live up, can't be a president. He's the very embodiment of what we as Americans should long to have. I hope the rhetoric of his despisers keeps falling on deaf ears and that people come to see the man for who he is while others continue to wallow in mud.

    December 7, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. Ryan, Oakland, CA

    I'm just commenting to point out that the commenter from Salt Lake City is not representative of the depth of LDS political thought (or proficiency with the English language). And also Gundi, the quote, "If you don't stand for something you'll fall for everything" is not from President Hinckley.

    With that said, I'm a democrat and an Obama man, but I really think its a little much to blame Romney for illegals being employed by one of the many companies that work for him. Please, its really just ridiculous. We liberals should be careful about being too quick with the hypocrite label, lest it come back to haunt us.

    December 7, 2007 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  4. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    If Mitt Romney had been truly concerned about illegal immigrants working on his property, he could have simply made it a condition of the contract with the company that all workers assigned to his property be documented.

    But more than likely he just wanted to get the best price. After all, even the very, very wealthy have got to pinch as many pennies as they can, otherwise they become average people, just like us. However, tt doesn't take a rocket scientist, or presidential nominee candidate, to figure out that the best price would naturally come from an outfit employing illegals.

    The real issue is that Mitt wants to have his cake ("We have to do something about illegal aliens")and eat it too ("But they work so cheap"). But the Mittster shouldn't be surprised, or angered, if he is called out about it.

    December 7, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. Wayne, Greenville TX

    It's VERY plain that he see no problem nor has any idea on how to fix it. I had work done on my Mother's house and told each sub contractor" NO Illegals " on my job site. Amazing, over 60% of the contractors turn and walked away, never to seen again. At least I did something about the problem and still got the jobs completed.

    Posted By Deacon , Harrison, Ark : December 7, 2007 5:31 pm

    Amazing how you were able to do something, Deacon, while Mitt Romney could not.

    Is this an indicator of his "leadership"????

    December 7, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. pam Eugene, OR

    I am a democrat but Romney is right on this one. I not not going in the kitchen of every restaurant I eat at and inspect all the cooks to look for illegals Nor will I look to see who makes the bed in my hotel. That is not my job. We have laws and agencies (INS) to do this. Just make them do their jobs and enforce our laws.

    December 7, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  7. John, Aliso Viejo, CA

    Try living in southern california and never having an illegal work at your home: whether it's painting, landscaping, remodeling, whatever. Good freaking luck. This is a non-issue. Companies are the ones responsible.

    December 7, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  8. G. Medina, Ohio

    If Mitt Romney had scrutinized or interogated the illegals he would have been critized for being a "hater or a racist". Couldn't you just see Geraldo Rivera outside Mitt's doorstep demanding to know why he'd let an illegal immigrants child starve because he wouldn't let the daddy mow his lawn? Hell, he'd probably bring the hungry child and shove it in his face.
    Once again the liberal media and journalists rule the world and will stop at nothing to destroy and tear apart anyone with truely good intentions.

    The reporters and news commentators who feed off this frenzy should ask for proper ID from the illegals cleaning the toilets they piss in at work everyday.

    December 7, 2007 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  9. JohnGalt Sturgis, SD

    "It's not my fault/responsibility as a home owner" says Romney about illegals working on "his" property, it should be on his (lazy)mind when your running for public office. If he can come up with an "excuse" for not being on top of details re: his lawn work, we have another Bush in office. We don't need, or want another brain dead president.

    December 7, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  10. Keith - Atlanta, GA

    CNN is missing something. This story was broke by the Boston Globe by racially profiling people at Romney's home. Also, Romney was assured previously by the company that no illegals would be working on his property. I guess the message here is that its not okay to trust people and to be more suspicious of anyone with a darker pigment on his skin... Too bad we can't apply this same principal at airport security checkpoints.

    December 7, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  11. Des Moines, IA

    What a jerk.

    December 7, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  12. Chris, Bangor, Maine

    I admire Mitt other politian has the stamina to protect the american worker against illegal is not about is about illegal immigration

    December 7, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  13. andrew s. rostolder hillsdale nj

    if that question riled him, wait untill osama asks if it is ok to park in the president's spot at the mall

    December 7, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  14. Editor,

    This is the same man that was on the board at Marriott and OK'ed porn in the rooms. Wonder what his view on porn is now.

    December 7, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  15. Shelly M., Tucson, AZ

    I feel like I live on another planet.
    I read these posts about why people don't like Romney. Can you believe these:
    He's a religious
    He's got good
    He's got too much
    He's too smart for the average person to identify with...??
    Jealousy never looks good on anyone.
    Evangelicals and Catholics are using this as a chance to poke Mormons in the eye. There is nothing political about their behavior towards Romney.

    December 7, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  16. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    I need to come in the defense of the Anti-Cult called Mormonism.

    With deduction: it comes with reason that the legendary figure which the action heroes comic figure "superman" was based on was in fact a mormon. He had a special garment which he wore underneith his briefs. This garment had symbols on it sacred to his family.

    The Occult then comes as the enemy of the Mormon religion, the occult being a cult of sorcery, not to be confused with wikken, as these occult commune grouping go without names or nationally accepted titles, the occult is a secret.

    With the death of the 'superman' of the occult re-surfaced as the present day victor. The occult figures come like cathar against the age of the beguine, or the cathar of the first dark ages...

    December 7, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  17. Elvis Presly, Yes I am still alive, San Francisco

    We are all gods children I think there should be no such thing as borders period. People should be free to live were ever they want and work were ever they want. All countries should drop their boundries and the world could live as one just like John Lennon and Yoko Ono dreamed. The United nations could establish laws and all weapon could be destroyed. All gods children would be happy and content.I think this is the new world order the trilateral commission envisions. First we need the North American union then we can proceed to John and Yokos Dream.

    December 7, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  18. chaz, chicago illinois

    Would voting for a Mormon President be such a bad idea? No, because when we look at Hillary, or Obama, Edwards, or Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain it doesn’t matter. What religion are they? Oh, I forgot to look that up. I guess I can’t vote for them until I know. Hold on, I’ll tell you who I’m voting for after I look up everyone’s religion…I’ll be right back.

    December 7, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  19. Raymond, El Paso TX

    WHAT'S THE 'EXTRA MILE' HE ASKS?! You make the company you CONTRACT accountable by forcing them to include it in the CONTRACT! Hence the word CONTRACTOR!

    Not that we've ever elected one but does America really need a president with bad judgment?

    December 7, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  20. Cammie, Baltimore, MD

    Governor Romney has a good point. I have a company mow my lawn and don't know whether the mowers are legal or not (I'm not home when they do it – I WORK for a living). And in a restaurant, or the dry cleaners – how in the world would I know of illegals? And do I need to check if the clothes I buy were made by illegals? Check all cab drivers, too?

    Gotta be a better way!

    December 7, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  21. Reid Morrison, Duluth MN.

    Usually before you hire a contractor, you recieve a proposal from him. If the prosposal underbids everyone else substancially, then you usually have a problem at hand. The extra mile in this case would have been to sign a contract with penalty clauses if the contract was terminated for such violations.

    December 7, 2007 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  22. D. Endo, Honolulu HI

    This kind of political "two-stepping" that makes me ill. Most of the "solutions" that both republicans and democrats propose do not focus on the problem. The problem is profit driven employers are all too happy to hire cheap illegal workers as long as they don't get caught. If you stop the demand (focus on enforcement with employers) then you'll stop people from coming to the US for jobs.

    Americans do not want to do these jobs because they pay far to little because of the drive for profits.

    December 7, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  23. Nick, Eagle Mountain, UT

    Re: Deacon , Harrison, Ark

    Deacon, you didn't tell us about the background checks you had done on each of the workers on your site? I'm sure you didn't just leave it at saying, "No Illegals" because that's what Mitt Romney did and he still gets attacked because another was found to be illegal. Your argument has no merit, sorry.

    Re: Dan (Baltimore, MD)

    "It's that his rhetoric on this is so harsh that he implies that people should do whatever it takes to get rid of every last one of them."

    Sorry, Dan, I've never heard Mitt imply that we should "get rid of every last one of them".

    Mitt Romney's plan on immigration is made clear on his campaign site and you'll find it's pretty detailed. It includes... Implement An Enforceable Employer Verification System, Reject Amnesty, Secure The Border, Punish Sanctuary Cities, Improve Interior Enforcement, Encourage Legal Immigration. You may want to look into the issues more before you bash a presidential candidate.

    December 7, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  24. VN, Sugar Land, Texas

    What is wrong with the folks of this country? We've just had seven years of the worst administration ever, who will leave us with major if not catastrophic worldwide problems. Couple that fact with the new challenges like terrorism, mending fences with those countries who have been assailed and embarrassed, and all the monumental jobs that come with being president, and then we'll all realize how mundane and yes, silly, it is to criticize a candidate as to whether he or she hires service companies who have employed illegals.

    I couldn't believe it when I heard a reporter interviewing Mitt Romney today, and saying - after he had fired the company he had hired for landscaping due to their hiring illegals - "Well, you can be sure this is one problem that will dog the Governor throughout his bid for the presidency!!! Lighten up, I say and act your age.

    December 7, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  25. Everett, ABERDEEN, MS

    The problem with Mitt is not that he is Mormon and not that the company he hired employed illegal immigrants. The problem with Mitt is that he takes us for fools and insults our intelligence continuously. In doing so he displays the attitude and beliefs of an elitist, entitlement mentality. You see it when he changes on subjects, tries to have it both ways on subjects, evident again here in his comments about his speech: "I don't know what the implications are from a political standpoint." Right. He just woke up yesterday and felt like giving a speech and winged it. I guess he didn't hear or remember all the conversations he and his staff had measuring all the political ramifications of his speech.

    What is really scary is that he is indignant; in other words, he believes he can say anything and it is the truth for as long as he says so, because he is the one who says it and we are being uppity if we question him. Remind anybody of some recent presidents? Anybody want to repeat the fun we've had over the last 16 years? Let's find somebody we can trust to be honest with us, even when it hurts to hear it.

    December 7, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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