Paladino on Undocumented Immigrants: You Gotta Go Back to Where You Came From

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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.

He elaborated on this position in an exchange with reporters:

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.

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AUDIO: WNYC's Bob Hennelly talks to Catalina Jaramillo about immigration and the governor's race.

This story was produced by Feet in 2 Worlds, a project at The New School's Center for New York City Affairs. Feet in Two Worlds coverage of the New York Primary is supported, in part, by the New York Community Trust.