Carl Paladino on Undocumented Immigrants “You gotta go back to where you came from.”

Carl Paladino, Republican nominee for governor in New York - Photo: Azi Paybarah

Carl Paladino, Republican nominee for governor in New York. (Photo: Azi Paybarah)

NEW YORK–On Tuesday night, Carl Paladino, a Tea Party-backed millionaire from Buffalo, NY, won the Republican nomination for governor.  A month ago, New York State Senator Ruben Díaz Sr., (who is also a pentecostal minister and a Democrat) invited Paladino to a breakfast with more than one hundred Hispanic ministers hailing from the five boroughs so they could get to know him better. When Díaz asked the Republicans in the room to raise their hands, only a handful of people in the audience did.

Paladino was more than an hour late–it was his first time in The Bronx, he confessed, and he got lost–but the ministers warmed to him immediately. He was charming, and he knew what to say.

“I’m the only candidate running for governor of New York who is anti- abortion.”

“Alleluia!” the ministers shouted.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman!” said Paladino.

“Amen!” responded the ministers.

But there were no amens or alleluias after Paladino’s statements about immigration reform.

“Immigration for me is coming here under our rules and earning it,” he answered when someone in the audience asked for his feelings on the issue. “For those who have come here illegally I believe we should give them a clear path to go home and to return.”

“So yes, I don’t think that we should grant amnesty, I don’t believe in that,” Paladino added.

“What about their children?” the same person asked.

“[If] they’re born here they’re American citizens. I don’t care if their parents were illegal or whatever. They are American citizens; they were born on American soil. That’s not their problem, how they’re parents got here. They’re innocents.”

After the breakfast, Paladino spoke further with reporters about what his approach to immigrants would be if elected governor of New York:

Listen to the exchange:

[audio: paladino.mp3]

Catalina Jaramillo: You talked about serving all New Yorkers. But there’s a large percentage of undocumented immigrants. How are you going to serve them?

Carl Paladino: Undocumented immigrants? No, I’m not. They are not citizens of the
 state. They are not citizens of the
 state. If they are here illegally, they are here illegally, OK? And we
 are not servicing them. We are not letting them come out in our social
 services programs; we are not letting them come out in our Medicaid
 programs. They can go some place else and try to get in those programs
 in some other state. But the taxpayers of this state are not going to
 be servicing undocumented aliens, OK?

CJ: So you are going to send them back?

CP: If the law enforcement people apprehend an undocumented alien, they
 will be sent back, yes. They will be given to federal authorities for
 proper deportation. Because we believe in the rule of law.

Unknown Reporter: You might support something similar to Arizona?

CP: You got to understand. They are border states. They are actively
 pursuing people that are walking across the border every day. They
 have a responsibility–the federal government has a responsibility to
 keep those people out. And they are not doing it. So Arizona is taking
 out some self help. And I don’t think that’s exactly what we got going
 out here in New York State, but certainly we’re not going to allow
 undocumented aliens or illegal immigrants to take part in our social welfare and our Medicaid systems in the state of New York. Our taxpayers didn’t buy into that. You gotta come here, you have to earn it,
 and when you earn it you are a citizen. And when you are a citizen
 you’re a resident of the state of New York and you are entitled to these entitlements. Asides from that, you
 gotta go back to where you came from and come in on a clear path, alright, and earn it and then you are entitled to those entitlements.

CJ: Do you think it’s possible to send them all back and the cost that implies?

CP: Those are questions that are a little bit beyond comprehension at the
 present time. I don’t know how many they are. I don’t know what we’ve
 got. I don’t know the full extent of the problem, but as we get into it, as we study it, we’ll continue to refine our position on the question.

Paladino faces Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic nominee for governor, in the general election on Nov. 2.

Catalina Jaramillo is a reporter with El DiarioFeet in Two Worlds coverage of the New York Primary is supported, in part, by the New York Community Trust.

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AboutCatalina Jaramillo
Catalina Jaramillo is an independent reporter and radio producer living in Philadelphia. For most of her career, she has worked toward social justice, writing about inequality and building real and virtual spaces for people to communicate. She is a freelance correspondent for the Chilean newspaper La Tercera and Qué Pasa magazine, and has filed stories for Al Dia, WHYY, FSRN, El Universal Domingo, VICE México and more. Catalina produced The Time is Now, a Fi2W climate change workshop for immigrant and ethnic media and is part of the Unidos team. She’s also an adjunct assistant professor for the new Spanish concentration at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her @cjaramillo.