Mailbag: Immigrant gardener edition
Our ruling on Mitt Romney's claim that he had never "hired an illegal" didn't sit well with many PolitiFact readers.
At the Oct. 18, 2011, Republican presidential debate, the former Massachusetts governor was criticized because illegal immigrants had done landscaping work at his home.
In an exchange with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Romney said, "I don't think I've ever hired an illegal in my life." We rated the claim Mostly False, citing credible evidence, primarily from a Boston Globe investigationin 2006, that undocumented lawn care laborers from Guatemala had worked at his home for years.
Many of our readers disagreed with our rating and said Romney’s statement deserved a Mostly True or a True.
Here’s a sampling:
"If I hire a legitimate, licensed company to perform work for me and one of their employees is an illegal immigrant, then it may be true that an ‘illegal immigrant did work for me,’ but it would be false that I ‘hired an illegal immigrant. ’Otherwise, If I eat at a restaurant and the person who cooked my hamburger or bused my table happened to be an illegal immigrant, you could say that I ‘hired an illegal immigrant.’ That is a ridiculous standard to hold anyone to. I hope you reconsider your rating of this claim."
"If your analysis is true, then anyone using any business that has illegal workers functioning in any capacity can be said to be hiring illegals themselves, which is just silly."You risk your credibility by making stretches with these things and not being sticklers by analyzing the actual statements. Semantics matter and my trust is yours to lose!"
"If Romney personally and knowingly hired illegal aliens to work on his lawn, then it would be Mostly False. It would also be Mostly False if he knew for a fact the company he hired was going to use illegal aliens. I have not seen any evidence, from the Boston Globe investigation or any other source, that either of these was the case. The only thing I keep reading is that Romney hired a company to do landscaping and that company hired illegal aliens. That is not culpability in my view.
"We all suspect that lots of businesses we frequent utilize illegal aliens, but suspecting and knowing are two different things. Show me evidence that Romney knew for a fact the workers were illegals or that the company was going to hire illegals for his lawn, then I can agree with a False or Mostly False. As it stands right now, at worst it should be Neutral, but realistically, Mostly True is the correct rating."
"Who the contractor hires has nothing to do with Mitt Romney. Using that standard, everyone has hired an illegal immigrant one way or another. If he’d asked about their immigration status, he would have been accused of hating immigrants and told he had no business asking this information. The only way he could have avoided any scrutiny would have been to discriminate and only hire white people, and we know where that would lead. So the spirit of the answer is True. If you asked the workers who they worked for and who hired them, they would say the landscaper, not Mitt Romney. I would rate your analysis Mostly False."
"I have never, ever checked on any employee’s status whenever I had work done on my home, called a plumber, went to a doctor’s or dentist’s office, or parked in a garage, nor has anyone I know ever done so. You made a mistake on this call, but your site is a valuable one for (mostly) correct information. Keep up the (usually) good work."