Here is how the Pembroke Mariner summarizes the situation in Massachusetts:
The blockbuster news came from Gov. Mitt Romney who, in a move widely viewed here as a bid to win votes in Republican presidential primary states, announced he was petitioning the federal government to give State Police new powers to detain illegal immigrants in the normal course of their work.
Romney was on the radio within hours of the news hitting the papers, talking about illegal immigrants seeking “handouts” and welfare assistance and emphasizing that while he supports legal immigration, the state must stand up against providing jobs, health care and education to any immigrant capable of crossing the border into the U.S.
“We’re just going to have to be serious about immigration,” Romney told cause-friendly talk show host John DePetro. In this case, Romney said, the state should have a role in enforcing federal laws.
By last Thursday, Romney was back on the road, in South Carolina for more Republican rallying. Outside his office here, State Police stood by as religious leaders and immigrants protested his plan, claiming it plays into the politics of fear and would prompt immigrants to shy away from reporting crimes, such as domestic abuse, to the police. A Romney spokesman said his plan makes commonsense. “The State Police are basically responsible for patrolling our state roads and the Boston airport, the same airport where two planes were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center,” said Eric Fehrnstrom. “For that reason alone, we think it makes sense to give our State Police the power to detain people they suspect are illegal aliens.” The Romney plan was announced days after the Boston Globe reported undocumented immigrants showed up repeatedly on payrolls of employers hired by state government itself. That report was followed by another in which Attorney General Thomas Reilly said he’d continue his policy, despite stepped up pressure, especially from Senate Republicans, of taking no action against employers who hire undocumented immigrants, who are both credited for doing jobs at wages that others are unwilling to and for taking jobs away from resident citizens.
Maybe I’m slow, but I just fail to see how the Governor’s position is controversial (much less how Reilly’s is not). People are breaking the law–so Romney’s proposed to arrest them. What’s the big deal? And why isn’t the attorney general, of all people, in favor of punishing those who aid and abet such behavior?