Romney's Lawn Problem

Mitt Romney.jpg

As Jamelle noted earlier, things got testy between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry at last night's debate. After being hammered on immigration issues for the past several weeks, Rick Perry turned the tables and accused Romney of hypocrisy. “Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective,” Perry said, “because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year." Romney turned red, visibly shaking during the exchange as Perry spoke over him. “Rick, I don’t think I’ve ever hired an illegal in my life. … I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals," he said.

So what's the hubbub about? Perry was referencing a series of articles in the The Boston Globe revealing that undocumented immigrants worked on lawn care at Romney's home in Belmont while the Massachusetts governor was posturing over the need for stricter immigration enforcement. The Globe first reported in 2006 that the firm Romney hired to tend his two-and-a-half-acre estate was staffed by Guatemalan immigrants, most of whom had entered the country illegally. "We'll see what happens from here on out," a Romney spokesperson told the paper at the time. "If the Globe has information on people that are in the country illegally, obviously that would have to be verified." But just a year later -- during the height of the 2008 contest -- the Globe noticed that none of the governor's habits had changed:

Standing on stage at a Republican debate on the Gulf Coast of Florida last week, Mitt Romney repeatedly lashed out at rival Rudy Giuliani for providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants in New York City.
Yet, the very next morning, on Thursday, at least two illegal immigrants stepped out of a hulking maroon pickup truck in the driveway of Romney's Belmont house, then proceeded to spend several hours raking leaves, clearing debris from Romney's tennis court, and loading the refuse back on to the truck.

Romney has been advocating for stricter punishments against employers who hire undocumented workers during both his presidential runs. "You have a fence, you have enough Border Patrol agents to oversee the fence, and you turn off the magnets," he said last night. "And that's employers that hire people who they know are here illegally." But like many of America's 1%, Romney has been that magnet himself, taking advantage of illegally cheap labor.

Photo credit: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

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