BOSTON — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch said Tuesday they support a pathway to citizenship for many illegal immigrants and hope their joint appearance will spur the presidential candidates — particularly Republican Mitt Romney — to embrace the issue during the campaign.
“They’re natural Republicans, they’re Catholics, they’re family people,” said Murdoch, whose company owns the SouthCoast Media Group and the Wall Street Journal. “Why Mitt Romney doesn’t do it, I have no idea.”
“It’s not a difficult thing to do. It may take a little courage, a little bit of overriding of his advisers, but it can be done. Tear up a few of those spreadsheets and just do it,” he added.
In July, the Wall Street Journal editorialized sharply against Romney’s campaign strategy, saying he was “squandering a historic opportunity” and playing it safe with an insular group of Massachusetts-based advisers. It has also taken him to task for his role as governor in crafting the Massachusetts health care overhaul.
Bloomberg appeared with Murdoch at the Seaport Hotel in Boston for a forum sponsored by the New England Council, a non-partisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions and public and private organizations throughout New England. He said he was looking to the next president to provide the leadership to bring Congress together around immigration reform.
“They’ve got to bring along Congress. It’s their responsibility,” said Bloomberg, who also praised both vice presidential candidates for speaking their minds.
“We at least have two vice presidential candidates that seem to have some courage and they say what they want to say,” he said.
The two men devoted much of their attention to highly skilled immigrants, saying there was a consensus in the business community that the H1B visa system — which provides temporary visas for a small pool of highly skilled workers — should be expanded.
But Bloomberg, who also spoke about immigration in Chicago earlier in the day, said offering a path to citizenship to lower skilled immigrants who agree to settle in depressed manufacturing cities could help revitalize those areas.
“They’d buy these houses that are derelict, they’d fix them up, they’d send their kids to school, “¦ they’d create businesses,” he said. “They would fill those cities with vibrancy.”
“It’s immigrants that are going to create the jobs,” he added.
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