U.S. News

Romney fires landscapers for illegal immigrants

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks about the economy at a meeting of the Manchester Rotary Club in Manchester, New Hampshire, December 3, 2007. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday fired a landscaping company for using illegal immigrants to work on his lawn, a week after a tussle with rival Rudy Giuliani over the issue.

Romney said in a statement released by his campaign that he had given the company, Community Lawn Service of Chelsea, Massachusetts, a second chance last year to get rid of its undocumented workers, but it had failed to do so.

“Today I fired a landscaping company that I learned was employing people who are not permitted to work here in the United States,” the former governor of Massachusetts said.

At a debate last week in St. Petersburg, Florida, Romney accused Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, of turning a blind eye to illegal immigration in New York.

Giuliani fired back that Romney had knowingly hired a landscaping company with illegal immigrants, prompting an angry exchange with Romney.

Romney wrote a letter of termination to the landscaping company’s owner, Ricardo Saenz.

“Today I learned that employees of your company, who were assigned to work on my property, are not permitted to work in the United States. Given your company’s disregard for the clear instructions provided on this issue last year, I am forced to terminate my contract with your company, effective immediate,” he wrote.

In his statement, Romney said the company’s failure to comply with the law is “disappointing and inexcusable, and I believe it is important I take this action.”

(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" onlinehere)

Reporting by Steve Holland