BOSTON — In the back office of his Weston, Mass., headquarters a
quarter-century ago, Mitt Romney, the chief Mormon authority in the
Boston area, told the leader of his Spanish-speaking congregation that
he would not directly pay for lawyers to help the growing number of
illegal immigrants in his church. Then he carefully instructed his
subordinate on how to circumvent the Mormon Church’s new hard line
against such assistance and subsidize their legal aide.
“In those issues I cannot help you financially to pay for
lawyers,” Romney said, according to Jose Francisco Anleu, a Guatemalan
immigrant. “But what I can do is allow you to give them food assistance
from the bishop’s warehouse,” a church welfare pantry. The money saved
could be used to “pay lawyers.” He reminded Anleu that he could use
church funds to cover rent, utilities and health care for his needy
members. The money came from Anleu’s budget, but, as Anleu noted decades
later, it was a budget sustained by Romney’s office.
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