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Bloomberg: Illegals needed to take care of golf courses
New York mayor: Fairways would suffer if undocumented immigrants sent home
While Congress debates immigration reform, weighing proposals ranging from making it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally, to building a wall along the border with Mexico, to adopting a guest worker program that leads to full citizenship, New York City's billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg has weighed in against deporting illegal aliens because they are the ones who take care of the golf courses.
Bloomberg, who co-hosts a Friday radio talk show on WABC, was discussing the controversial immigration bills in Congress that have resulted in protests across the nation when he was asked to name a typical menial job an illegal immigrant might do. The mayor, an avid duffer, immediately thought of golf.
"You and I are beneficiaries of these jobs," Bloomberg told his co-host, John Gambling. "You and I both play golf. Who takes care of the greens and the fairways in your golf course?"
"Nobody wants to deport them, in the end, because people need them to take these jobs and do the things that nobody else is doing," Bloomberg said, also claiming 25 percent of illegal aliens are farm workers and many work in home health care.Bloomberg, who has been criticized in the past for what some see as an elitist image, came under fire for his golf comments from a spokeswoman for the New York Immigration Coalition, an alliance of 150 immigration groups that organized a march of thousands of protesters across the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday.
"It would be smarter for [Bloomberg] to talk about other contributions and other aspects that immigrants contribute to make our culture so rich and vibrant," Chung-Wha Hong told the New York Daily News. "I'd encourage him to talk about more than economic reasons, or simply coming to this [issue] from a corporate viewpoint."
A year ago, the New York Times reported that a "group of power brokers" had privately warned Bloomberg to "erase his image as an elitist billionaire and show that he cares about the concerns of average New Yorkers."
"The perception of Mr. Bloomberg as one of the city's wealthiest men, governing from on high, also obscures his record in office and his true self, as a man coming from nothing to build a communications empire," the advisers said.
Taking issue with the mayor's facts was Robert Heaney, general manager of Deepdale Golf Club on Long Island, where Bloomberg often plays.
"Deepdale Golf Club has always been in 100% compliance with all immigration laws, and it is absolutely our policy to remain in compliance with all immigration laws," Heaney said.
A spokesman for Bloomberg insisted the mayor stood by his golf comments.
"There are a lot of people taking positions to his left or his right who frankly don't like the mayor's straight talk on immigration policy," he said. "Even when people don't agree with the mayor, they like that he calls it like it is and is free to speak his mind independently."
Bloomberg also voiced support, for the first time, for a proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a measure denounced by many supporters of illegal immigration.
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