From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
NAPLES, FL -- Fred Thompson met with the sheriff of Collier County Florida today and rolled out a new anti-illegal immigration policy initiative that focuses on seven main policy points: 1) No amnesty; 2) Attrition through enforcement; 3) Increased enforcement of current laws; 4) Reduced incentives from jobs; 5) Bolster border security; 6) Increased prosecution; and 7) Rigorous entry and exit regulation.
Collier County is the only county in Southwest Florida to have its deputies trained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to allow them to serve as local immigration and deportation agents. After a quick briefing on the county's program, which Thompson said should serve as a "model" for counties across the country, the former senator focused on how best to enforce current immigration laws.
At the center of Thompson's immigration proposal is a crackdown on sanctuary cities, about which he said, "Some of our cities in this country, for their own individual reasons and notions, have basically said to their locals, 'You can't cooperate with federal authorities. If you run across illegal aliens, you cannot cooperate with [the federal government], you cannot reveal them to federal authorities.' That's wrong.
"I propose that we cut off some discretionary funding to those cities. If you're going to do that, you're not going to do it with federal money. As far as colleges and universities are concerned, part of the law is that you may not induce people to come in illegally and become part of the university by giving them in-state tuition treatment, unless you give it to everybody else, which of course nobody does. But they continue to do so. There are discretionary funds there that need to be cut off from colleges and universities that insist on violating the law."
At the same time that Thompson was describing his immigration proposal, Giuliani's communications director Katie Levinson released a statement criticizing the former senator for casting a vote against stricter employment verification laws:
"Where was Fred Thompson when he had the chance to tackle illegal immigration and fix a broken system? He was voting against $1 billion to combat illegal immigration at the borders, against stricter employment verification and for giving illegal immigrants more benefits than we give legal immigrants. That's not consistent or Conservative."
Thompson campaign spokesman Jeff Sadosky noted that the bill in question only had support from two Republicans in the Senate because many saw it as a stepping-stone to a national ID law. "[Giuliani] is basically criticizing us for being Republican," Sadosky said, "once again aligning himself with Senate Democrats."
Thompson, who has been vocal in criticizing Giuliani about his court case against a 1996 sanctuary city bill, took another jab at the mayor today while speaking to reporters following this morning's event.
"In 1996, we passed a bill while I was in the senate that outlawed sanctuary cities," Thompson said. "Mayor Giuliani went to court to defeat that law, and unfortunately he won. But there are still, across the country now, many sanctuary cities, which are in violation of the law. I just don't think they ought to be able to do that with federal money.
"I think that my record speaks for itself. A lot of [the GOP candidates] are saying the same things now. The mayor, his position has been consistent in support of the idea of sanctuary cities. A lot of people are saying otherwise now, but I've always basically been where I've been on my issues."
In response to the criticisms of the Giuliani campaign, Thompson said the bill in question, "was a pilot program at the time, it was constructed in a way that several of us, most Republicans actually, were a little concerned about a national ID system. The technology was not there. We've come a long way since then, and of course 9/11 has happened since then. So I think it's time that we had a system, like the one they call the eVerify system, where employers can very quickly determine whether or not somebody applying for a job is legal."