- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday said he would grant a pathway to citizenship to some illegal aliens already in the country but would stop future illegal aliens by finishing the border fence and bringing expertise to the job.

He said the problem is the government lacks the commitment to get the job done — something he would change.

“You’ve just got to do it. … It’s complicated [but] it’s not brain surgery,” he told WVOC-AM radio in Columbia, S.C. “You’ve got to build a fence, build a technological fence, hire the border patrol, set up a ‘BorderStat’ program to measure people coming over the border, start doing it.”

Mr. Giuliani said he supports fencing 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border and hiring the U.S. Border Patrol agents Congress has already authorized, as well as establishing better databases and a new I.D. card for foreigners working or studying here.

He also said he would bring his New York crime-fighting experience to the border by creating a program called BorderStat, which measures and tracks enforcement techniques.

As for the current immigrant population, Mr. Giuliani committed to deporting criminal aliens, both legal residents and illegals, which he said would total about 300,000.

Mr. Giuliani said the rest of the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens already here can gain a path to citizenship after a waiting period if they register and learn English.

Those key elements generally track President Bush’s immigration bill, which was defeated in the Senate earlier this year. Mr. Giuliani opposed that bill, saying it was too complicated and unworkable.

Mr. Giuliani’s top rival for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, also opposed the immigration bill. He doesn’t want a path to citizenship for illegal aliens.

Mr. Romney and a potential candidate, former Sen. Fred Thompson, have labeled New York a “sanctuary city” — one that protects illegal aliens by preventing officials from inquiring about legal status or reporting them to federal authorities.

On Monday, Mr. Romney visited the U.S.-Mexico border at San Diego, and called for penalties against sanctuary cities, including reducing federal funds to them.

Over the weekend, another potential presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, called on Mr. Bush to convene an emergency three-day session of Congress to pass a law to address sanctuary cities in light of recent reports that three students were killed in Newark, N.J., purportedly by an illegal alien shielded by sanctuary city policies.

Mr. Gingrich, Georgia Republican, proposed ending some federal funding for cities that refuse to comply.

Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, another Republican presidential hopeful, said if elected he would bring federal criminal charges against mayors and legislators who declare their municipalities sanctuary cities.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.