- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Former New York Mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani today told a Hispanic group that the immigration crisis will be solved by securing the U.S. border and accounting for all illegal aliens, and then weeding out criminals and enrolling the remaining aliens in a process of “Americanization.”

“A good American … understands freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, basics that underlie our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, basics that were given to us by God,” Mr. Giuliani told a gathering of The Latino Coalition, at a speech in D.C. “To the extent they don’t, you’re not really a good American.”

Mr. Giuliani said border security is his first priority, because of the terrorism threat.

After that, he said, all illegal aliens should “come forward,” and “if they are working and complying with the law, and they are making a contribution, let’s sign them up, let’s register them, let’s collect their taxes and let’s let them pay their fair share.”

The crowd of about 250 people in the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom applauded. Mr. Giuliani then quickly added that his plan is not amnesty.

He said that illegal aliens already in the U.S., of which there are an estimated 12 million, should pay penalties, back taxes, and should be moved “to the back of the line,” behind other immigrants who have already applied for citizenship.

He also said that what President Bush and others have called a “path to citizenship” should include a demonstration of English-speaking skills and an understanding of “the basic ideas of America.”

“If they do that, then those people should become citizens, because we’ve reestablished in this whole process now a sense of assimilation and Americanization,” Mr. Giuliani said.

Latino Coalition Chairman Hector Barreto praised Mr. Giuliani for agreeing to speak during the group’s two-day small business economic conference, which ends tomorrow.

“We reached out and called and sent letters to every major candidate in both parties, but there was only one leader who accepted our invitation,” Mr. Barreto said.

Most of the other Republican candidates are in California, Mr. Barreto said, preparing for their first debate, which is Thursday.

Mr. Giuliani indicated, however, that he sees the Hispanic community as a place in which “the Republican party could grow the best.”

“Maybe others haven’t seen that,” Mr. Giuliani said, referring to hard line anti-illegal immigration factions within the Republican party, led by Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, who is also running for president.

Republicans were unable to pass immigration reform laws last year before they lost control of Congress in the fall elections.

Democrats, led by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, of Massachusetts, are now working with the Bush administration and top Republicans to reach a compromise on the issue.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and another leading presidential candidate, is one of the chief Republican lawmakers involved in crafting the new legislation.

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