Mayor Bloomberg is taking on presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and others who've said the federal government should slash funding for cities that don't strictly enforce immigration laws.
"Boy, let them come," Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday when asked about Mr. Romney's recent remarks denouncing New York as a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants.
While Mr. Bloomberg declined to criticize Mr. Romney or anyone else by name, he said: "I can't think of any laboratory that shows better why you need a stream of immigrants than New York City."
The mayor pointed to New York's low crime rate and its thriving economy as evidence the city is doing something right.
"If that isn't example enough as to why you need immigrants coming in, I don't know what to tell anybody," Mr. Bloomberg said. "If they don't believe that immigrants add a heck of a lot more than they cost they just aren't looking at the numbers."
According to a published report, Mr. Romney criticized his GOP rival, Mayor Giuliani, for running a "sanctuary city" when he was in office. New York allows illegal immigrants access to city services without repercussions, but it has a policy of reporting those caught for criminal activity to the federal government and is not a so-called sanctuary city.
In response to Mr. Romney, Mr. Giuliani, who is unveiling his immigration platform today, shot back that New York had the lowest number of per capita illegal immigrants of any major city. Mr. Bloomberg, a possible 2008 presidential candidate, has said deporting the country's 12 million illegal immigrants would be impossible. He's proposed a national identification card for those legally working.
Meanwhile, the mayor and the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, yesterday announced initiatives to improve the city's ailing middle schools.
The initiatives, which stem from a report Ms. Quinn commissioned, will be paid for with $5 million in new city funding. The money will go toward several programs, including expanding Regents-level courses, adding professional development for teachers, and creating a director of middle school initiatives.
Noticeably absent was an agreement to reduce class size — something the council has pushed for in the past.