Last week, protestors at Michigan State University (MSU) confronted racist Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo at a speech sponsored by the MSU’s College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom. Tancredo, who is one of the leading anti-immigrant congressman in the House of Representatives as chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, spoke to a crowd of 100 people and advocated for restricting immigration and instituting laws stipulating that all Americans be required to speak English. There were numerous attempts at disrupting the speech, with a fire alarm forcing the event to be delayed by 45 minutes, a second alarm interrupting his speech, and activists disrupting his speech while holding a banner that read “No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist USA.” The protest received widespread attention both in the Lansing/Michigan media (WLNS, WOOD TV) as well as in national media outlets including the Washington Times and Fox News. Conservatives around the country, including Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity have trumpeted allegations by Young Americans for Freedom president Kyle Bristow that he was physically attacked for his beliefs and that the protest was violent. Earlier this year, Bristow was removed from MSU’s student government by a recall that came because of his efforts to organize a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” and opposition to student groups such as the Women’s Council, Lesbian Avengers, and Brown Berets. Bristow has also claimed that “homosexuality kills more people than cigarettes.”
Bristow and Tancredo hold similar views, which is not surprising given the fact that both are involved with Young Americans for Freedom. Of course, Tancredo, who is rumored to be contemplating a run for president in 2008, has considerably more influence as a member of Congress. Tancredo has made immigration his primary issue and has supported legislation limiting immigration into the United States, including recent measures to further militarize the United States-Mexico border by expanding a physical border wall by 700 miles. He has also advocated for
sending individual families back to Mexico after he found out that they were in the country without documentation and has criticized the Denver library system for offering materials in Spanish. Tancredo has also described Miami as a “third world country” due to “uncontrolled immigration.” In 2003, Tancredo sponsored the Mass Immigration Reduction Act, a law that sought to limit legal immigration to the United States to 30,000 people per year for the first five years and setting that limit yearly until the United States reduced undocumented immigration to 10,000 people per year. The bill received support from a number of far right anti-immigration and racist organizations, including American Patrol, but failed to make it to the floor. Despite failing in his major legislative initiative, Tom Tancredo has made strong allies with the racist and far right by pushing anti-Mexican racism thinly cloaked as opposition to immigration, receiving campaign contributions from racist anti-immigration activists, including Michigan resident John Tanton who founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Tancredo spoke earlier this year at a gathering hosted by the racist League of the South at which he held up a newspaper published by another racist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens.