Congressman Who Attacked Undocumented Immigrants Under Indictment For Employing Them

CREDIT: Office of Rep. Grimm/Angel Mendez Redline

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY)

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) was indicted in federal court last week for alleged improper business practices at a restaurant he oversaw until 2010. Among the charges included is an allegation that Grimm “knowingly hired and knowingly continued to employ” undocumented workers who were not legally eligible to work in the United States. But a ThinkProgress review of his 2010 campaign site found that his campaign positions starkly contrasted with his own behavior.

FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said Monday that “As a former FBI agent, Representative Grimm should understand the motto fidelity, bravery, and integrity. Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn. In this 20-count indictment, Representative Grimm honored a new motto: fraud, perjury, and obstruction.”

Grimm had played up his background fighting political corruption enforcing the law in his successful run for Congress in 2010. In a section on his campaign website called “Issues: Immigration & Border Security,” Grimm took a strong tough-on-undocumented-immigrants stance:

This nation has had enough of career politicians who want to reward illegal aliens with amnesty and citizenship for breaking our laws. Most countries, including Mexico, our neighbor to the south, have zero tolerance for illegal immigration, and its time we did the same. As far as I am concerned, stopping illegal immigration is as much about protecting American lives as it is about protecting American jobs and maintaining a stable, healthy economy.

Realistically, you cannot simply “round-up” and deport every person among the millions illegally in this county, but there are things we can do to reverse the tide of illegal immigration. If illegal aliens can’t work here or collect government benefits, they will not continue to come here, or want to remain here. With that in mind, as Congressman, I will seek the adoption of penalties, and enforcement of those penalties, that will absolutely deter employers from breaking our immigration rules. Additionally, I will not support any kind of non-emergency medical, taxpayer-paid benefits or services to illegal aliens.

If the allegations in the indictment are true, Grimm may have been exactly the sort of employer on whom he was vowing to crack down.

Since his initial campaign, Grimm has softened his rhetoric on immigration and backed the general idea of having some form of comprehensive immigration reform. Still, he opposed the bipartisan Senate reform bill and has not signed onto a discharge petition to bring the question to the House floor. His current campaign site no longer contains an immigration page, but does note in a “National Security and Defense” section that because “drugs and illegal immigrants cross daily into the United States” from Mexico, “we must take greater strides to strengthen and secure our borders if we are to put an end to the trafficking and increase security within the United States.”

A Grimm spokesman did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry, but, in a press conference on Monday, Grimm said he is a “moral man” and vowed he would “fight tooth and nail until I am fully exonerated.”

In a post-State of the Union address interview in January, Grimm threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony after he was asked about allegations of illegally soliciting and accepting contributions from foreign donors, offering to help a foreign national get a green card in exchange for campaign cash, and filing false campaign finance disclosures.