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Tancredo: Was he a good congressman?

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By The Staff

By Hannah B. Hayes

The issues around immigration are complex. There’s a melting pot of experiences that led most of us here. Every immigrant has a story — often compelling and heart-wrenching. The migration from “my country” to the promise of a better life is a journey into the unknown on an uncertain path through a maze of danger and bureaucracy.

That the 6th Congressional District ended up with a xenophobic vigilante who made it his business to create trouble for 12 million migrants and their friends and families was a sorry situation. Tom Tancredo spewed hate and prejudice rather than represent his constituents. Rolling Stone named him No. 6 of the Ten Worst Congressmen, or “Mr. Bigotry.” When ABC News asked Tom to comment on the State Department calling him “reprehensible” and “absolutely crazy,” that only served to invigorate him.

Tancredo was one of three Republican presidential candidates who raised his hand when asked if anyone did not believe in the theory of evolution. He’s against bilingual education, bilingual ballots, and wants to ban gay marriage nationally. He has no problem raiding legal users of medical marijuana, nor promoting term limits and then staying on to serve an extra fourth term. To every mother’s dismay, he does not support mandatory helmet laws.

Without thinking about the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy brought to full term, he sees women who make the difficult decision to have an abortion as being “scarred forever” in a puritan throwback to 17th-century thinking right out of “The Scarlet Letter.” He sponsored the Sudan Peace Act but makes no compassionate connection to those lives caught in the wave of economic immigration. Did he stop to think about the life of Jesus Apodaca, the Denver honor student that he wanted to deport?

Let’s hear from Tom in his own words: “Look at what has happened to Miami. It has become a Third World country. You would never know you’re in the United States of America.”

“I suspect the pope’s immigration comments may have less to do with spreading the gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the church.”

“If you want to call me a single-issue candidate, that’s fine, just so long as you know that my single issue is the survival and the success of the conservative movement in America.”

“The best way to deter a nuclear attack on U.S. soil is to threaten to retaliate by bombing Islamic holy sites like Mecca and Medina.”

During a Republican presidential debate, Tancredo made a statement in passing that the root cause of Islamic terrorism is “a dictate of their religion.”

Republican voters chose Tancredo and kept him in office for 10 years despite his extreme positions. He claims a legacy of raising awareness on immigration, but his self-described “bombastic” method changed nothing. Governor Tancredo? I don’t think so. You can’t represent a state when you’re standing alone out in right field.

By Kelly Weist

A lot of Republicans came to the party as libertarians. We believe in limited government, free-market capitalism, and the importance of our fundamental freedoms as detailed in the Constitution.

Those fundamental freedoms include speech, assembly, religious practice, ownership of guns and, especially important to me, the economic freedom of private property rights. We believe that these are the cornerstones of a free society, and that all the rest of our prosperity flows from them.

When I first met former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, I was not only impressed by his libertarian ideals, his intelligence and passion, but also by his compassion and his great love for his family. His lovely wife, Jackie, is an incredible woman, and they are very devoted to their children and grandchildren. A truly good man is a rarity in Washington, D.C., and I felt that Tom was both a passionate libertarian and a good man.

I came to disagree somewhat with Tom on the issue of illegal immigration. I tend to be an economic conservative, and I view the issue of immigration through a labor supply-and-demand lens. Sovereignty and the rule of law are important to me, and should be important to all of us, but I felt that our immigration policy needed to reflect global economic realities.

However, 9/11 changed my mind, as it changed all of us. We could no longer ignore the reality that many people out there want to destroy America, and that some countries and cultures actively preach our destruction. We can no longer afford not to know who is entering this country and what their intentions are. National security must come first, because otherwise we have no America to provide hope for anyone.

Anyone who heard Tom speak in person, and really listened instead of heckling, heard a man who had thought long and deeply about the issue of not only our national security but our national identity, and how to protect this country we love so well. Tom is a moving speaker. When he and Jackie returned from Chechnya, where they had gone to assist in the recovery and healing after the horrible school shooting, they spoke to a local women’s club. All of us were in tears.

I was often disturbed by the casual racism of some of the people who joined the anti-illegal-immigration movement. I was also disturbed by the hatred and anger expressed toward Tom from the other side.

The media treated Tom as the worst sort of hate-monger, where he truly is not. Unfortunately, this has set up an almost uncrossable emotional divide about an issue that should be able to be resolved objectively.

Tom has served us well, and deserves a great deal of credit for all he’s done. His raising of the immigration issue and its problems will help us keep this country safe, and I for one say thank you to him and to Jackie.

HAYES REBUTTAL

The reality check that President Obama cites in his inaugural address sums up the issues Tancredo might have worked on. “Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

Asking government to restrict immigration must seem ironic to a true libertarian. Geopolitical borders limit property rights. People should be able to choose their communities freely. Selecting which foreigners are admitted is antithetical to Tom’s philosophical beliefs, yet he clings to Neanderthal concepts based on fear and a mistaken sense of how to build security.

President Obama alternatively states, “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” It’s time to lay aside the tired 9/11 excuse and see immigration restraints as impeding the rights of families to be together. As President Obama concluded, “Let it be said … (that) we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

WEIST REBUTTAL

It never fails to amaze me. The double standards the left uses against anyone who dares to stick their head up and profess conservative values or principles are stunning. Tancredo doesn’t support mandatory helmet laws for kids on bikes, so that’s outrageous. Protecting unborn life, however, is outrageous in and of itself. The serious psychological aftereffects of abortion on the women who choose it are well-documented and often quite devastating. Not to mention the fact that an innocent life is ended. But deploring this and acknowledging the devastation is “extreme.”

Speaking truth to power is often a leftist mantra, but when someone actually does speak truth, he is crucified. Islamofascist terrorists do believe they should terrorize America because of their interpretation of their religion. This is a fact. The death and terror they have caused are also facts. The left refuses to acknowledge anything that doesn’t fit their ridiculous view of the world, so they vilify someone like Tom Tancredo.

Tom’s beliefs are not extreme; they are actually quite well-reasoned and mainstream. He just happened to be very effective in articulating them, and that’s what enrages the left.

Hannah B. Hayes is a small-business owner and activist with Evergreen Peace. A recent graduate of Leadership Evergreen with a master’s degree in education, Hayes has remained active in this community through her writing and organizing for 35 years.

Attorney and political activist Kelly Weist has served on the board of directors of the Colorado Federation of Republican Women and is the co-founder of Mountain Republican Women. She is an adjunct professor of political science at Metropolitan State College of Denver.