Rudy Giuliani's Concern for Immigrants

From a story I wrote for Newsday, October 12, 1996:

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani filed a lawsuit yesterday to overturn new laws he said would force the city to surrender the names of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to the federal government.

"The Immigration and Naturalization Service will do nothing with those names but terrorize people," Giuliani said. "They deported only 1,000 people from New York City last year. We have literally 400 {thousand} to 450,000 people whose names you could turn over, and that creates a very frightening situation for them."

... In the meantime, he hoped to build political support for Congress to change the immigration laws. He said he had formed a coalition to spread the word about positive aspects of immigration. "I truly believe there is a reservoir of good will for that," he said. "It just has to be tapped."

Who was that guy who praised nativist Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, anyway? I've covered Rudy Giuliani's career on and off since 1983, and I've never known him to be so over the top in a speech as in this one. Others who covered him in his mayoral days are saying the same.  "I have never seen Rudy Giuliani this rabid," Giuliani biographer Andrew Kirtzman tweeted. There were times in the speech when he seemed to be shaking with rage, spitting his words out.

Giuliani's angry defense of police in this time of danger for them was no doubt genuine: four of his uncles served as police officers. But as much as he shouted, grimaced and gestured -- or maybe because of that --  his high praise for Trump seemed staged and false, as if a part of him still knows better.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

Also by this author
Religion and the Latino vote

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads