WASHINGTON—Rep. Tom Tancredo ought to reconsider his membership in the Republican Party, a Utah congressman said Wednesday after the two GOP lawmakers put an intraparty rift over immigration policy on full public display.
“I think he ought to consider his views and decide whether they’re consistent with the Republican Party,” Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, said of the Colorado congressman after the two clashed repeatedly during a forum sponsored by the Latino Coalition, a Hispanic business group.
Cannon, a leading proponent of President Bush’s proposed guest-worker program, has had a running feud with Tancredo, an opponent of the plan and outspoken advocate of tougher immigration enforcement. Last year, a political action committee founded by Tancredo targeted Cannon during his primary election challenge.
The two men sat side by side on stools at Wednesday’s event inside Washington’s J.W. Marriott hotel, and the rhetoric got so emotional that at one point they had a comical tussle over who would get to hold the microphone next.
“It is crazy to suggest this nation should not do everything possible to secure the border,” Tancredo said, saying a desire for cheap, immigrant labor could leave the borders open to terrorists or narcotics traffickers. Tancredo equates Bush’s proposal to “amnesty” for illegal immigrants, saying it would reward people who entered the country illegally.
“I don’t think there’s a place in the Republican Party for racism, for xenophobia, for ideas that are fundamentally un-American,” Cannon said.
Tancredo clapped quietly, saying he also sees no place in the debate for racism or xenophobia, which refers to a fear of foreign people or things.
“Of the two of us, Mr. Cannon is the only one who has had a primary (challenge since taking office),” Tancredo said. “Evidently, there are a lot of people in his district who believe he is not Republican enough.”