1:50 pm Jun. 30, 2010
This morning Michael Bloomberg stood an a podium, with 10 people lined up behind him, in a circular room at the Midtown Marriott to announce the recipients of the second round of "Cities of Service Leadership Grants," which gives ten cities $200,000 each to hire someone to "increase volunteerism." After the burly, tanned mayor of Nashville, Karl Dean, recalled the volunteers who were there after the floods earlier this year ("nothing can tear down a city with volunteers"), most of the room filed out, leaving the mayor with reporters for an "off topic" question-and-answer session.
After several questions on taxation, specifically a proposed tax on hedge fund workers ("the best thing ever to happen to Connecticut," Bloomberg said) a reporter asked the mayor, who has said immigration will be a central focus of his third-term agenda, to reiterate the "plan for citizenship for undocumented immigrants" that he'd outlined in an interview last Thursday with Fox 5.
"We've been invited by the White House to come down and listen to the president give a talk on immigration [tomorrow]," Bloomberg said, before actually outlining his plan.
"We desperately need more immigrants in this country if we're going to work our way out of this recession," Bloomberg said. "Those that say immigrants hurt the economy just don't understand. I had my physical last week and the doctors—one came from Nigeria, one came from Senegal, one came from Singapore, one came from, I think, Bangladesh." (He did not elaborate on why there were four.)
"We have to do something about immigration. And yes, we should be in control of our own borders, yes, the law should be obeyed," Bloomberg said. "But the bottom line is all of us were part of the 12 million undocumented here, getting them here, we all chose to pass a law and then deliberately not enforce it, because that's the politically correct thing to do."
He countered the points usually used by opponents of immigration.
"In New York City we have some maybe 500,000 undocumented. Most of them pay taxes," he said. "They have a low crime rate because they don't want to go near the I.N.S. They don't use the schools because they tend not to bring their families."
He added, "They don't use our hospitals very much because most people use three-quarters of their medical care in the last three years of their life, and these tend to be young people."
"This is a tough place. You come here to work, you don't come here to put your feet up. Yes, sir," he said, calling on another reporter, who had a different topic in mind.
"Do you agree or disagree with Diana Taylor that—" the reporter began, before Bloomberg cut him off.
"I'm not talking about this. You go ask somebody else, I don't agree or disagree with anybody" Bloomberg said, in a relatively mild reprimand. "That's a ridiculous question."
After a few more rounds, a reporter asked him how his physical went.
"It was fine," the mayor replied. "The doctor says I will die. Not from anything they found so far, but someday I will die."
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