Rep. Tom Tancredo on Illegal Immigration

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 29, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Resetting our "Big Story" tonight: the big battle over immigration reform. Congressman Tom Tancredo helped lead the fight for the tough bill to pass in the House. The Republican chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus joins us now.

So I'm sure you've been keeping an eye on your colleagues over in the Senate as they construct guest-worker plans and things that sound an awful lot like amnesty programs, or anyway, work your way towards citizenship. Any of that got any chance to be law?

REP. TOM TANCREDO, R-COLO., IMMIGRATION REFORM CAUCUS CHAIR: Around here, man, I'm not going to say, I'm not going to be definitive about anything because, yes, anything's possible.

But you know what worries me, John? I think they've been listening to you, because we've had — you and I have had many conversations on this and every time we do, you come up with this kind of wild, crazy guest-worker plan. And I think they're listening.

GIBSON: You're blaming me?

TANCREDO: And I think that's why they — yes, yes, it's your fault. They were listening to you about guest workers. And it's still a wild and crazy plan and, no, it won't work.

GIBSON: Well, they're not listening to me about building the wall so illegal immigration stops cold.

TANCREDO: Well, unfortunately, they're not listening to the American people either. You know, we wonder who they are. I'm just, you know, joking with you because you do wonder who are the senators listening to?

It's not to the American public. It may have been to the 500,000 illegal aliens out in the street the other day. It might be to their business, you know, supporters. Let's be frank about it, there's a lot of dough that flows into coughers from people...

GIBSON: Like who? I mean, are you talking about the American Restaurant Association, the American Hotel Association?

TANCREDO: Sure, sure. The Homebuilders Association. There are a lot of them that support organization, support parties and people who want to keep that flow of illegal aliens coming.

GIBSON: But, Congressman, let's talk about this thing. Everybody — you see the Republicans worried, worried, worried, about stepping in the Prop 187 hole as Republicans did in California. They're going to alienate these voters.

These are prefect Republican voters. They're family people, they're hardworking, they're religious generally. These are Republican voters. Why would you want to alienate them by being so hostile to the idea that they're here?

TANCREDO: I don't want to be hostile to any voter. What I want them to say is, look, we will support you, we will support Republicans because we believe in the same values and, John, I believe that we can make that case.

It's so silly to assume for a moment that just because a person's last name is Hispanic in origin that they don't believe in the same exact things that you, or at least, certainly, that I do, about the importance of securing the borders, the importance of regulating our immigration policy so that we can actually begin to look at an increase in the wage rates for people who are at that lowest level, because right now with massive immigration into this country, both legal and illegal, what we have found is that it has depressed wage rates.

Most of the people — well, I'll put it this way. Many people here in the United States, legal residents of the United States, who are in that low, low income category, look at illegal immigration askance and say somebody better do something about it.

And I promise you that if we present this in the right way, we lose no, well, you know, we will lose some votes, but we will gain many others, both in the Hispanic community and throughout.

GIBSON: There might have been a million people on the street in Los Angeles on Saturday.


GIBSON: They do not appear to agree with you.

TANCREDO: Well, no, I'll be darned. A million people. How many of them would you say are here illegally? How many of them are waving Mexican flags, essentially indicating that they have an allegiance and an affinity to a country other than the United States.

GIBSON: You know there's a lot of voters in there, Congressman.

TANCREDO: Well, unfortunately, there's a lot of voters. Most of them are voting illegally. They are fraudulent voters. We have too many illegal aliens that are allowed to vote. Let me tell you something. Those folks did the best thing that I can ever think could be done for the people on my side.

When America, when John Q. Citizen looked out and saw a sea of people waving the Mexican flag and demanding to be essentially absolved and given amnesty for breaking the law, that did not play well in Peoria. Let me tell you, John.

GIBSON: All right. Congressman Tom Tancredo, Republican chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, thanks a lot.

TANCREDO: You bet.

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