Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney fired his landscape company after reporters from the Boston Globe discovered that the company continued to maintain his property with the help of illegal immigrants. The same issue arose just over one year ago. At the time, Romney had a discussion with the company, Community Lawn Service of Chelsea, MA, giving the company a second chance to comply with the law.
The other presidential candidates, both Republican and Democrat, were just a little too happy to jump on this issue.
Fred Thompson’s campaign released a statement saying, “First Mitt Romney was for illegal immigrants working on his lawn, and then he was against it, then for it, and now I guess he’s against it again. Sounds like his position on amnesty.”
Rudy Guiliani’s staffers said Romney’s statement speaks for itself, and John McCain, as described by the New York Times, “walked out of his hotel in Bedford, N.H., yesterday with a broad grin because he knew what reporters were about to ask. He mimed a motion as if he were pushing a lawn mower and said, “I am more than pleased with the fact I live in a condominium.”
"Smooth talking Mitt Romney's lingering lawn care problem is the latest reminder of his shameless and hypocritical efforts to pander to the right wing of his Party by saying whatever he thinks the political winds dictate," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera.
While Romney’s illegal flap is embarrassing, it ultimately means nothing. Right now, Congress is sitting on a bill that will help landscape companies bring in much-needed guest workers to fill their labor needs. It’s called Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2007. The bill would extend the returning worker exemption to the H-2B cap that limits the number of guest workers to 66,000 per year. Without extending the returning worker exemption, more and more landscape companies are either going to lose business due to lack of labor, or they will turn to illegal immigrants to get the work done.
While many like Sen. Barbara Mikulski has led the charge to extend H-2B reform, too many Congress members are afraid to touch the immigration issue in the current political climate.
So while the presidential candidates play politics and Congress sits on its hands, the landscape industry is going to suffer due to political cowardice. It’s time to stop talking and take action. — Mike Seuffert