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Tancredo's long record of promoting right-wing causes
Leader of the crusade against immigrants

February 10, 2006 | Page 2

JUSTIN AKERS exposes the racist record of Tom Tancredo, the leader of the right wing's anti-immigrant crusade in Congress.

TOM TANCREDO, the Republican member of Congress from Colorado's sixth district since 1999, has emerged as the champion of the anti-immigrant movement in Washington. But his resume shows a long history of promoting right-wing causes.

Tancredo's career began as a high school teacher, where his philosophy of redeeming a "godless country" with a "truly Christian educational system," and his tireless crusades against multiculturalism earned him a position in the Department of Education under Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. There, Tancredo dedicated himself to the project of dismantling the Education Department, in line with the then-popular conservative goal of dismantling "big government."

In 1993, Tancredo became president of the Independence Institute, a right-wing think-tank promoting the downsizing of government spending for social services. His collaborators included Jeff Coors of the notoriously racist and antiunion Coors family.

While at the helm of the Institute, Tancredo devoted himself to the "term limits" movement--a commitment he abruptly abandoned when he decided to break his promise to serve only three terms in Congress and sought a fourth in 2004.

As a member of Congress, Tancredo sought to build his career around another cause--stopping immigration.

He has proclaimed himself a disciple of the xenophobic "clash of civilizations" theory, and harbors a special animosity toward Muslims. In a recent interview, he characterized the "war on terrorism" as being against all Muslims. "I believe that what we are fighting here is not just a small group of people who have hijacked a religion, but it is a civilization bent on destroying ours," he said.

He told Fox News that Muslim holy sites should be bombed in response to any future terrorist attacks.

In another interview, Tancredo announced that "[Muslim fundamentalists] are recruiting in our prisons and in our inner cities. They are recruiting in Muslim communities that have branched out all over the world. There is a huge Muslim population in Calgary, Canada. They are responsible for huge amounts of methamphetamines. They ship the components into the United States. They then cook them down here, and they send the money back to the Muslim cartel in Calgary, and they in turn support terrorist activities all over the world with the money."

Tancredo's hostility towards Mexican immigrants blends political expediency with racist opposition to the cultural integration of Mexicans in the Southwest, predicated on the superiority of "Anglo-American" culture.

In his personal war against Mexicans, Tancredo will spare no victim. When the Denver Post recently profiled an undocumented immigrant high school student with a 3.9 grade point average, Tancredo tried to have the boy deported.

Tancredo's wealthy suburban congressional district has virtually no immigrants, but he decided to make anti-immigration his personal cause in Congress. Linking immigration to the "war on terrorism," Tancredo makes constant allusions to phantom terrorists "crossing the border"--because of what he calls the Bush administration's softness on terrorism and border enforcement.

By blending anti-immigrant sentiment with the Bush administration's foreign policy objectives, Tancredo has found a volatile issue to exploit. This has forced the balance of power within the Republican Party to the right on immigration. Because of Tancredo and the forces he is allied with, Bush now touts a "crackdown" on unauthorized immigration as a centerpiece of his administration's agenda.

Tancredo's crusade put him on collision course with the Bush administration and the Democratic Party, both eager to implement a guest-worker program that will serve the interests of big business.

Because of this opposition within Washington, Tancredo has fashioned himself as a right-wing populist, reaching out to the right-wing base of the Republican Party. His anti-immigrant crusade has put him in league with far-right nativists such as the Minutemen (he was a keynote speaker at their inaugural event), the religious right, cultural supremacists and anti-immigration policy institutes.

Tancredo founded the Immigration Reform Caucus in Congress, which unites 91 legislators opposed to immigration.

He also co-founded the Team America Political Action Committee with Angela "Bay" Buchanan, sister of arch-conservative Pat Buchanan. According to its mission statement, the Team America PAC aims to "make [immigration] a significant part of the national political debate, and to identify, recruit and help elect to public office individuals who are committed to enforcing our laws and securing our borders."

Tancredo's PAC hopes to groom a generation of politicians dedicated to pushing the anti-immigrant agenda to center stage--aided by the volunteer "border patrols" of the Minutemen, dubious "studies" by pseudo-scientific think tanks such as the Center for Immigration Studies, and the hope that working-class America will turn against its migrant counterparts.

Most opinion polls show that the public doesn't share Tancredo's animosity towards immigrant workers. But his crusade has pushed the political establishment to the right.

In December, Tancredo helped copilot the Sensenbrenner bill through the House. This legislation, which is now under consideration in the Senate, makes undocumented immigration a felony, tightens restrictions on employers and extends the length of detention for those apprehended.

Emboldened by his victory, Tancredo is pushing to introduce a bill that would erase the practice of "birthright citizenship" for children born on U.S. soil. His goal is to prevent legal obstacles to the deportation of whole immigrant families, the endgame of the anti-immigrant movement.

A creature of the bipartisan "war on terror" and opposition to migrant workers' rights, Tancredo has attached himself to issues where he finds little opposition. That is why we need to build an immigrant-rights movement that can turn the tables on the likes of Tancredo--and the racism and violence spawned by his crusade against immigrant workers.

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