Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney Is Nobody's Wise Man on Sanctuary Cities and Proto-Trumpian Immigration Politics

The #NeverTrump favorite, poised to be a Senate thorn in the president's side, has more in common with Trump's jail-'em-all ICE director than many Republicans care to admit

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There were two separate stories crisscrossing my Twitter feed this morning that deserve to be knitted together. One is the news, greeted with audible sighs of relief by #NeverTrump conservatives and conflict-seeking media alike, that Mitt Romney stands at the ready to occupy the Utah Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Orrin Hatch. The second is this Neil Cavuto interview Tuesday with acting director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan, who asserted that the Department of Justice should "file charges against the sanctuary cities" and "start charging some of these politicians with crimes." Take a look:

Besides exhibiting the kind of casual authoritarianism more commonly found in second-world autocracies, Homan's comments represent a fundamental hostility toward the Constitution's separation of powers. As Damon Root wrote in November, on the occasion of a District Court declaring unconstitutional the Trump administration's attempt to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities,

Sanctuary cities are protected by both the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. For starters, as the late Justice Antonin Scalia explained in Printz v. United States (1997), "the Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States' officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program." Put simply, Trump's executive order flunks the 10th Amendment test that Scalia spelled out in Printz.

Trump's executive order also flunks the test set forth by the Supreme Court in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012), which held that the federal government may not threaten to withhold existing funding from a state in an attempt to coerce that state into doing the feds' bidding. Such an effort would be an unconstitutional act of "economic dragooning."

Having the feds drag Jerry Brown away in shackles may be an interesting visual, but it would not survive the judicial laugh test.

So what does this have to do with poor Mitt Romney? Only this: In 2008 and 2012, Romney wielded the sanctuary cities issue like a hammer against his Republican presidential opponents.

||| AZ Quotes
AZ Quotes

As I wrote before the 2016 election,

In August 2007, when [Rudy] Giuliani was in the middle of a year-long, mostly uncontested stint at the top of Republican presidential primary polls, Mitt Romney, then in fourth place, started attacking him. "If you look at lists compiled on websites of sanctuary cities, New York is at the top of the list when Mayor Giuliani was mayor," the former Massachusetts governor said at the time. "He instructed city workers not to provide information to the federal government that would allow them to enforce the law."

Romney kept hammering away at the sanctuary charge throughout that fall. By the end of 2007, Romney had caught up to Giuliani-who would exit the race the following month—and was setting his sights on emerging front-runner Sen. John McCain (R–Ariz.). "McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently," a December Romney ad charged, with questionable accuracy. "Even voted to allow illegals to collect Social Security." […]

Four years later, Romney, who as governor in 2005-2006 endorsed the comprehensive reform packages championed by McCain and then-President Bush, was determined to wage the 2012 primary as the biggest immigration hawk in the field. When Texas Gov. Rick Perry opened up a polling lead in the summer of 2011, Romney repeatedly hammered him for creating a "magnet for illegal immigration" by allowing in-state tuition for illegals at Texas universities. With Perry thus dispatched, Romney out-hawked Newt Gingrich by calling for policies that would lead people to "self-deport."

And lest we forget, weeks after that election, a prominent businessman and political observer blamed such immigration hawkery for Romney's defeat. "He had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal….It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote….He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country." Eventually, though, Donald Trump would change his mind.

Denying federal funding to sanctuary cities is right there in Mitt Romney's 2012 Republican Platform, as it had been four years before. As with so many other policies, Trump on immigration is actually calling Republicans' bluff, rather than being content to demagogue the issue on the campaign trail and then drop it like a hot tamale once in office. Trump may have provided an accelerant, but the arc of the GOP's devolution on immigration long predates him mattering, and still bends through the pages of even the most Trump-skeptical conservative publications.

The federal government should not jail state and local officials who conclude, as then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani did while overseeing a historic crime drop in the mid-1990s, that when it comes to residents interacting with government, you need to "protect undocumented immigrants…from being reported to the [feds] while they are using city services that are critical for their health and safety, and for the health and safety of the entire city." It is not the job of local cops to enforce federal law. While Trumpian conservatives are the ones who need this constitutional refresher most urgently in 2018, it was their Romney-world predecessors who led us down this authoritarian path.

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  1. But let’s not forget that Bill Clinton promised mass deportations in his SOTU. Obama and Hillary both supported building a border fence during the 2008 campaign. Hillary’s positions on illegal immigration 10 years ago are basically where Trump’s is now. The Democrats just realized the issue would win them votes.

    1. If they had spent a few more years before yelling “racist” at everybody who held the same views they had 3 years ago, we wouldn’t be in such a terrible state of dialogue and rhetoric.

      1. It’s just too bad we don’t have the border fence or the mass deportations.

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    2. Why do Democrats make such a big deal about Russia allegedly affecting our presidential election when they think it’s racist to make a distinction between Americans and non-Americans. Would they protest so loudly if the mayor of an American town did what they accuse Putin of doing?

      1. Why? For the usual reason: FUD gets votes and contributions.

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    4. Hey Matt, have you read 8 U.S. Code ? 1324?

      Any person who…

      (iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;
      (iv) encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law…

      shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (B).

      The law provides penalties up to $250,000 in fines and 10 years in prison.Does anyone seriously argue that the city councils, mayors and other city officials of “sanctuary” cities do not “conceal, harbor or shield from detection” criminal aliens? Or “induce [them] to come to, enter, or reside in the United States”?

      File the criminal charges. Prosecute to the full extent of the law and let the jury decide.

      Personally, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to have the city council of San Francisco found guilty on 1000 counts and sentenced to 10,000 years in prison and $250 million in fines. The rest of the Country would get the message pretty quickly.

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  2. It’s terrifying that somebody as evil as Drumpf isn’t too far out of the mainstream by Republican standards. This makes two elections in a row in which the GOP has literally put a white nationalist at the top of the ticket. Disgraceful.

    1. You’re still guzzling DNC kool-aid if you think Romney is a white nationalist. Thinking like that is why no one gives a f*ck when progtards call someone racist, homophobic, mysogonist, et cetera.

      Plenty to criticize Romney but progressive hysterics don’t fly around here.

      1. He is a spoof for crying out loud. Literally.

      2. Get your sarcasm meter re-calibrated. It should be obvious from the handle that’s a sock-puppet/ spoof.

        1. The funny thing is, it’s a conservative spoofing a strawman libertarian.

          1. The even funnier thing is, it’s got Tony agreeing with it on the regular now.

            1. Poe’s Law cuts both ways.

          2. He is spoofing a “liberAL-tarian”, that is, self-proclaimed “libertarians” who are really liberals/progressives but selective embrace a few libertarian policies when it suits theiri agenda.

    2. Trump’s way too lenient on criminal aliens. If any other country in the world were occupied by 12-20 million people illegally entering their country, they’d call it what it is – an invasion.

      I’d like to see the president declare that we HAVE been invaded and turn the full might of the military loose to slaughter the criminals illegally in the Country. Of course, I’d give them six months to get out first. After that: Death penalty.

  3. So, um, what crimes would you actually charge sanctuary city politicians with?

    1. Some of our more hysterical commenters have suggested starting with treason, and working our way up.

      1. I mean, I don’t want to accuse the acting head of a federal agency of not knowing what the fuck he’s talking about, but…

      2. I would look at federal laws relating to aiding and abetting illegals, possibly some of the sedition laws on the books. There has to be something. Plus, perp walking someone like Gavin Newsom or Jerry Brown in handcuffs would be its own reward.

        1. Nothing screams libertarian like the federal government arresting state politicians for not doing their bidding. And of course there’s no way this will come back to bite the GOP in the ass the next time the Democrats are in power.

          1. We don’t live in a libertarian country, we live in a country where 20% of the population are forced to finance the social welfare of the remaining 80% of the population and where freedom of association and freedom of contract don’t exist anymore. Bringing in more illegal migrants into the country and then forcing me to pay for their food, housing, education and to associate with them is not libertarian, it’s authoritarian (of the socialist variety).

        2. Re: Elias Fakame

          I would look at federal laws relating to aiding and abetting illegals

          The laws that may exist only relate to providing employment to undocumented workers. It’s *not* illegal not to ask a person’s migratory status during a traffic stop or an arrest.

          1. The laws apply much more widely than merely to “providing employment to undocumented workers”, they also apply to aiding illegal aliens in many other ways. And the threshold for triggering them is that you know or should reasonably suspect that someone is in the country illegally.

            Politicians and police may not be violating those by “not asking a person’s ‘migratory status’ during a traffic stop”, but they usually violate them in many other ways.

    2. There are various federal laws that make many forms of assistance to illegal aliens felonies. These apply to politicians and local governments just like they apply to individuals and businesses.

    3. 8 U.S. Code ? 1324.

      The penalties are up to 10 years and $250,000 in fines per count. It can be applied to any person – from Governor of Kalifornia down to dog catcher of Merced who harbors, shields from detection, or induces a criminal alien to enter or remain in America.

      Start at the top – convict “Moonbeam” Brown, Ed Lee and Eric Garcetti, sentence them to 1,000 years each and fine them $250,000,000 and the problem will solve itself from that point on.

    4. 8 U.S. Code ? 1324

      Charge, try and convict Ed Lee, “Moonbeam” Brown and Eric Garcetti and sentence them to 10,000 years in prison and $250,000,000 in fines and the rest of the issue will resolve itself.

      No one will again risk publicly harboring America’s enemies in America

  4. “It is not the job of local cops to enforce federal law.”

    It is also NOT the job of local cops to shoot and kill unarmed, innocent civilians, but that sure f**k doesn’t stop them.

    1. “It is not the job of local cops to enforce federal law.”

      Neither is it their job to impede the enforcement of it.

      1. Neither is it their job not to impede the enforcement of it. In fact, it’s up to the local political leaders what the local cops’ job is.

        1. Racist Southern politicians should not be able to direct local cops to violate federal civil rights laws, and progressive California politicians should not be able to direct local cops to violate federal immigration laws.

          1. This, I think, is the most interesting point in this. When the DOJ announced that prosecutors could pursue marijuana crimes in states that had legalized pot, the folks on the radio went nuts here in the Bay Area. Suddenly states’ rights were the thing. A while back, Arizona tried merely to enforce federal immigration law more stringently than the federal government and got itself in trouble. Apparently, they should have unilaterally set their own rules for round-up and deportation. Then they’d have just been defending the local character of their state.

  5. Does Mitt live in Utah? I sure hope so. Otherwise, I feel really sorry for the poor dog.

    1. Mitt Romney is a globalist, a “citizen of the world”, a member of the so-called “cosmopolitan elite”. Which means that he is from everywhere, and yet simultaneously from nowhere.

      He probably owns dozens, if not hundreds, of homes and properties all over the world, and yet he has a genuine emotional bond or attachment to none of them. He is one of T.S. Eliot’s “hollow men”. His only deeply held conviction is that he he was born to be a “top man” – to rule and make decisions on behalf of many others. Whether his subjects are in Massachusetts, Utah, or somewhere in the Punjab province hardly even matters.

    2. Utah is to Mormons as Israel is to Jews. The Law of Return.

  6. the federal government may not threaten to withhold existing funding from a state in an attempt to coerce that state into doing the feds’ bidding

    The drinking age and (formerly) highway speed limits would like to have a word.

    1. They’re as unconstitutional as other such rules, Rhywun.

  7. Trump is probably to stupid to do this, but maybe he should start advocating the shut-down of some of our useless military bases in those states with sanctuary cities, or canceling big military contracts in states like California, that would get somebodies attention quick enough.

    1. Actually, that is the sort of leverage he would apply in. Usiness, historically. I get that you hate him, but that doesn’t make him stupid, and you diminish yourself when you insist he is.

      1. No, he actually is kinda stupid. He thinks that judges sign bills, he thinks that there’s a “Marshal of the Supreme Court” who makes some sort of important decisions, he thinks that the Constitution has twelve articles, need I go on? This type of stuff is way worse than Obama’s “57 states” gaffe or his “health care premiums will go down 2000%” or some such. Look I don’t care if you choose to dedicate your life to licking Trump’s balls, I believe in the freedom of individuals to make terrible choices about their own lives. But do try to keep the reality denial and the gaslighting to a minimum.

        1. He also believes that more than half of immigrants from Mexico are rapists, criminals and drug dealers, with only some being good people (he assumes). Albeit to be fair, thst doesn’t make him stupid, since more than half of his supporters believe the same thing.

          1. Well, all of the illegals are criminals. He seems to be the only facing that reality.

            1. Not all of them. Only the ones who crossed a border illegally.

              1. damiksec clearly wrote “illegals”. That clearly does not imply otherwise-legal aliens. “Illegal alien” (or “illegals” for short), however, is a correct term to use for those aliens who are not in this country legally.

              2. You can’t realistically be an illegal alien in the US without violating numerous other laws, even if you “merely” overstayed your visa instead of crossing the border illegally.

            2. Well, all of the illegals are criminals. He seems to be the only facing that reality.

              So are all pot smokers. What do you propose doing about that?

              1. Not pretending they have committed no crimes or commit “less than almost anybody else”.

                You can argue that the law is dumb…not that it does not exist.

                1. I see. You mean “they’re all criminals” in the strictly technical, i.e. “best,” sense.

                  Like “marijuana is harmful because if you smoke it I’m gonna break your skull and throw you in jail.”

                  “Illegals are criminals because there’s a law against being illegal!”

                  Of course, this argument sidesteps the observation that as a class “illegal” immigrants are less criminal than “non-illegal” residents.

                  But your point is a technically valid one, too!

                  1. Of course, this argument sidesteps the observation that as a class “illegal” immigrants are less criminal than “non-illegal” residents

                    That statement is absolutely false. Studies don’t look at levels of criminality (which are impossible to determine) but rates of incarceration, which is someething very different. Furthermore, they don’t compare illegal aliens with legal residents but with citizens.

                    But even illegal presence in the US is not just a technical violation of the law, it’s a serious property crime: illegal aliens benefit from massive government spending but contribute a disproportionately low amount of money in taxes. In effect, almost every illegal alien is stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Americans every year. This ought to be a serious crime, just like embezzlement or bank fraud.

              2. No, I’m not a pot smoker. Nor did I violate immigration law. Nor do I wilfully violate any other laws.

                You’re also missing the point of books like “Three Felonies a Day”. You seem to take it as justification that because many people violate arbitrary federal laws, we might as well stop enforcing laws altogether. That’s not actually the point of those books.

  8. I was watching Fox News’ Outnumbered and the usual cadre of Fascistic harpies insisted that California’s new rules put State law enforcement officers at risk, without even bothering to explain why, since ICE does not provide law enforcement support. It’s actually the OTHER way around.

  9. Part of what Homan told Neil Cavuto:

    — “Well look if he [governor Brown] thinks he’s protecting the immigrant community, he’s doing quite the opposite, because if you think ICE is going away, we’re not.” —

    I wonder if the ICE director had a rare moment of candor or if he has a problem with language, because he just threatened all immigrants with that statement.

    He did not qualify the term “immigrant community” which means he talked about ALL immigrants being at risk because of the existence of ICE. His incredibly clumsy statement can be used to argue that sanctuary cities do have a valid reason to exist. The man is an idiot.

    1. The DEA goes after doctors writing legal prescriptions for legal pain medications, so…

    2. You say this as if there is not a contingent within the legal immigrant/citizen community that goes out of their way to shield illegal immigrants from the law (not just immigration law). And yes, that does mean otherwise legal immigrants and citizens will be hassled and occasionally imprisoned because of that. That’s not a threat, that’s just the lemon law in action when it comes to enforcement.

    3. He did not qualify the term “immigrant community” which means he talked about ALL immigrants being at risk because of the existence of ICE

      As an immigrant myself, I don’t feel threatened. It’s obvious what he was referring to, and you can blame progressives for comfusing “illegal aliens” with “immigrants”.

      If you want to criticize him for something, criticize him for the use of “community”. There is no “immigrant community”: an illegal Mexican agricultural worker and a legal Indian-born tech worker have nothing in common.

    4. That’s not the way I see it.

      You have immigrant communities. You have criminal aliens.

      Q: Who commits the most crimes?
      A: The criminal aliens.

      Q: Where are most of the crimes committed?
      A: In the immigrant communities.

      Therefore, if you make it easier for criminal aliens to stay, you are endangering the immigrant communities.

      ICE isn’t going away because it’s their job to round up the criminal aliens.

  10. OMG, Matt Welch, for your own damn good, please stop looking at twitter.

    He’s crossing the tweets, everybody, look out!

    2008 Matt Welch would mercilessly ridicule 2018 Matt Welch for this. You used to take down other journalists for shit like this. What happened?

    What politicians say isn’t very interesting, and what they tweet is even less interesting than that. Watching a gaggle of journalists carp about what this politician said about that on Twitter is so awful–even more so for being so common in the media these days.

    It’s like watching Matt turn into his parents–only his journalism dad is Dan Rather. The old, tired Dan Rather, . . .

    Do yourself a favor. Stay away from twitter and go read some of your classic columns taking down other journalists from yesteryear. Look at those old columns–look at them! Do you still recognize that guy? Would he have written about something he saw on twitter?

    Maybe it’s not like Matt turning into his parents. Maybe it’s more like the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUXHB5U-Vl4

    Not you, too, Matt. Tell me twitter didn’t get, you too!

  11. Trump’s executive order also flunks the test set forth by the Supreme Court in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012), which held that the federal government may not threaten to withhold existing funding from a state in an attempt to coerce that state into doing the feds’ bidding. Such an effort would be an unconstitutional act of “economic dragooning.”

    Grants are not “existing” funding. They are grants that must be applied for. There is zero obligation for them to continue receiving them.

    Jesus, Reason, you’re as bad as Vox.

  12. I want America to streamline the immigration process and issue many more immigration visas. Until that happens, I don’t mind Trump enforcing the immigration laws he inherited from Obama. Democrats passed Obamacare without a single Republican vote, but decided against significantly raising the number of visas we issue.

    1. I want to see immigration reined back to sane levels – less than 1/2 million a year – and all criminal aliens forced to leave, imprisoned, or executed.

      You guys have all seen the gumballs video, right?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPjzfGChGlE

  13. Besides exhibiting the kind of casual authoritarianism more commonly found in second-world autocracies

    No, Matt Welch, based on first hand experience with both “first-world liberal democracies” and “second-world autocracies”, let me tell you that holding public employees accountable for compliance with the law is not “casual authoritarianism”, it’s a hallmark of functioning liberal Western democracies. Yours is the kind of casual cheap shot deeply ignorant American intellectuals make when trying to score points in arguments.

  14. Jesus Christ, Welch has gone full Gillespie. This is a hyperbolic piece that is perfect for Think Progress, but would be considered to be asinine by anyone not suffering from severe TDS. All it needs is a moral equivalency about how Romney and Trump are like the mullahs in Iran or Kim Jun Un or something.

  15. I think the twin trends of Trumpism and sanctuary cities leads to an Escape from … scenario. Snake Plisken, where are you?

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