Rep. Tancredo on Immigration Reform

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," April 10, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Let's bring in a man who has his own strong opinions about the immigration issue, Republican Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus.

So, Congressman, what do you think of this massive turnout, probably considering all the cities, more than one million people?

REP. TOM TANCREDO, R-COLO.: Yes. I think it's great, in a way, for our side. I think that it is good for people to see just how many people there are in this country who are — I mean, let's be realistic about this, John. For the most part, the folks who are out in the street are here illegally.

I think that, in a way, it sends an interesting message to the rest of America. And the message should be this: We better get a handle on this problem right now.

John, I will never forget when Juan Hernandez, who was, at the time, the head of a ministry in Mexico called the Ministry for Mexicans Living in the United States. And I asked him what was the purpose of this?

He said the purpose of his ministry was to increase the number of people coming to the United States. He didn't care legally or illegally. And I asked him, well, why?

And he said, well, for one reason, he said the number of Mexican nationals living in the United States will influence your government's policies vis-à-vis Mexico to our favor.

What you are seeing on the streets of the United States is the outplaying of that exact same idea. You know, move people into this country, purposely or not, when millions and millions of Mexicans come to the United States and then protest in the streets, they are trying to influence this government's policy.

We should not be influenced by people on the streets waving Mexican — today, American flags. Yesterday, it was Mexican flags. But somebody sent them the memo and said don't do that anymore. That doesn't really fly.

And they're right. That was a bad mistake. So, now it's American flags.

GIBSON: Congressman, this illustrates a problem, doesn't it? I mean, if you were going to say, all right, all the illegals are felons and they should be picked up and removed from the country, doesn't today's demonstration show you what a big job that is?

TANCREDO: Here's what you would have to do: Stop giving these folks a job.

Millions will return on their own. You don't have to round people up. You don't have to, you know, do some massive movement of people out of the country. Millions will do it on their own. Those that don't, over time, yes, they have to be deported because that is the law.

And all these people who are talking about how much they love America, well, you know what? If you love America, one of the things you do is abide by the laws. And, so, that means you come into this country the right way.

I hear from literally thousands of Mexican-Americans. I mean, we get e-mails and letters constantly. I have a — there is a poster in my office in Washington, D.C., given to me by the Republican National Hispanic Assembly in California, thanking me for my work on immigration.

Believe me, these folks in America — Mexican-Americans do not vote monolithically. Millions of them want exactly the same thing that I and other people who want reform are asking for. So, what I'm hoping is that America is not being confused. Don't be scared.


GIBSON: Well, wait a minute, Congressman.

TANCREDO: Don't...

GIBSON: Look at this, look at this quote. I think we have it on the full screen. Even if we don't, I can quote it.

This is from one of these Hispanic leaders today. He says: "Marches will only get you so far. There has to be an electoral component to get the Republicans out of the majority."

Democrats are out there signing these people up today to vote, whether it's legal or not. Isn't this going to cause your party problems come November?

TANCREDO: I have no doubt that if we let them paint us, if we let the Democrats paint us in this particular issue as, you know, being anti-Hispanic and all the rest of it, and if we allow people by the millions to vote, even if they are not in the country legally, you know, commit tremendous voter fraud, sure, we have got problems.

But does that mean you abandon all of your principles? Does that mean you say: Oh, gosh, I saw millions of people in the street. I guess we forget about the rule of law. After all, they are going to be votes some day?

No. You go after them and say, you know what? The rule of law protects all of us. You can make the case, I believe, to Mexican-Americans all over this country for the kind of thing we believe in. And I think that you can, in fact, get the vote.

GIBSON: Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, thanks very much.

TANCREDO: Thank you, John.

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