Reps Tancredo, Gutierrez Engage in Nasty Exchange

M.E. Sprengelmeyer, Rocky Mountain News (Denver), March 16, 2006

WASHINGTON—Rep. Tom Tancredo and an Illinois congressman traded charges of racism during a heated confrontation following a televised appearance Wednesday on immigration reform, both their congressional offices confirmed today. Tancredo and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., are frequent sparring partners on the talk show circuit as Congress works to pass some version of immigration reform. Tancredo is a leading advocate of tougher enforcement against illegal immigrants and people who hire them. Gutierrez, the son of Mexican immigrants, calls Tancredo’s approach “ugly policy” motivated by racism.

On Wednesday, they appeared together on CNBC, and when the cameras stopped rolling the debate continued with a spat first reported by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.

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Gutierrez said to Tancredo: “You racist! You bigot!”

Tancredo told Gutierrez: “You look in the mirror if you want to see a racist.”

Gutierrez and staff members finally got on the elevator, while Tancredo and his team took the stairs.

When they met again on the first floor, Gutierrez told his staff, “Better hurry up—the KKK is coming,” according to Roll Call. He accused Tancredo of following him, although Adams said they simply needed to use the same exit because Tancredo’s office is across the street.

Just outside, Gutierrez said to aides within Tancredo’s earshot: “I thought about hitting him, but then I thought, ‘What if I (expletive) kicked his ass,’” the newspaper reported.

“To say this is unbecoming of a Congressman doesn’t go far enough,” Adams said. “This is unbecoming of an adult.” Asked if Tancredo wanted an apology, Adams said, “It would be nice if he apologized. We’re not expecting that from somebody who threatens to beat people up.”

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Washington—Colorado’s Rep. Tom Tancredo and 70 other U.S. representatives sent a letter today to a Senate committee, warning that legislation it’s considering allowing illegal immigrants to work legally in the country will hit a roadblock if it comes back to the House.

The Senate’s Judiciary Committee for the last two weeks has been debating an immigration reform bill that includes what’s being called a “guest worker” program, something President Bush said he wants.

“We are concerned that some of these proposals are fundamentally incompatible with the desire of the American public for real immigration reform and their clear opposition to reform proposals that amount to little more than thinly disguised attempts to provide amnesty,” the House members said in the letter.

“If the Senate were to pass such a proposal, we believe it would doom any chance of a real reform bill reaching the president’s desk this year.

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