But not quite in the way that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had quite planned.
Romney was accused of having no shame on the immigration issue during an “Ask Mitt” question and answer session at a rally in a high school in Derry.
Romney’s inquisitor was Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform Vice Chairman Ciaran Staunton who introduced himself to the crowded room as a proud Irish immigrant.
After some general remarks on Romney’s term as governor of Massachusetts, Staunton, holding up a “No Irish Need Apply” sign turned to the immigration issue and the plight of millions of undocumented and illegals currently in the U.S., thousands of Irish among them.
He accused the GOP presidential hopeful of changing his stance on immigration in order to attract votes.
“Have you no shame?” said Staunton to a response of boos from Romney supporters and a cry of “shut up” from one individual.
Staunton said that there were currently fifty to sixty thousand undocumented Irish in the country.
Many of them, he said, were “mothers and fathers of American children. Just remember that they’re human beings,” said Staunton.
Romney, who has taken a strong stance against comprehensive immigration reform during his campaign, responded by stating that he favored legal immigration but wanted to end illegal immigration.
“We simply cannot take all the people in the world who want to come to America. We’re going to enforce the law. I love legal immigration, but I want to end illegal immigration,” Romney said.
He said that respect for the rule of law was a fundamental principle of a healthy society.
Staunton, a Mayo native who lives in Queens, said later that he was disappointed with Romney’s response
He said that Romney was “prostituting his soul” by appealing to anti-immigration sentiment among certain voters.
Staunton told the Echo that he had managed to get his words in by wearing a Romney button and placing himself at the front of the crowd where he was in plain sight of the candidate.
“I spoke of him having a great record in Massachusetts but then asked him why he had changed. Then I got emotional and went in with the boot,” said Staunton who said that his challenge had been in no way out of order.
Sure I’m a pillar of society,” he said.
Staunton’s confrontation with Romney was recorded by print and electronic media and at one point was broadcast on CNN.
Meanwhile, a fundraiser for Staunton’s now more famous ILIR is set for this Friday, January 11 at Rory Dolans on McLean Avenue in Yonkers with comedian Des Bishop.