January 26, 2007
Leah Yoon, NPR




Washington, DC; Jan. 26, 2007 Ė In an interview with NPR Newsí Melissa Block airing this afternoon on All Things Considered, U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO) calls for stricter immigration reform and discusses President Bushís guest worker program. He also addresses how these issues could affect his possible presidential run.

According to Congressman Tancredo, restricting the immigration flow to the United States would best be accomplished, ďIf you reduce the opportunity and the reason people came, people go home.Ē

A rushed transcript of the interview with Congressman Tancredo, airing this afternoon, January 26, on All Things Considered is below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News All Things Considered. Audio of the interview is available at www.NPR.org.


REPRESENTATIVE TOM TANCREDO (R-CO): If we could stop the practice of hiring illegal aliens, we would solve so much of the problem because of course it would reduce the flow across the border because the jobs are the magnet, and you would reverse the flow because people who are here would return home, and then the people that donít then you have to deport because thatís the law.

MELISSA BLOCK: Deport them. So what would that be? Would you be rounding up illegal immigrants and send them home?

REP. TANCREDO: No, I think for the first Ė if you just do this by attrition, you would see a really significant change in the number of people who are here illegally. If you come here for a job and youíre not able to obtain a job or obtain social services, then what are your options?

BLOCK: Well, thereís an underground economy that would probably take a lot of people in, right?

REP. TANCREDO: Well, thatís true and you would have to aggressively go after people Ė but Iím saying, enforce the law. If you enforce the law against people who hire people who are here illegally, whether theyíre doing it underground or above board, then thatís the way you attack the issue. And if you do that, you reduce the opportunity, and if you reduce the opportunity and the reason people came, people go home.

BLOCK: And Iím still curious about the ones that do not go home. What do you do?

TANCREDO: If you donít go home and youíre here illegally, itís the same thing you do right now. If you find people who are here illegally, youíre supposed to deport them. We donít do it very often, but thatís the law.

BLOCK: And would you seek them out somehow?

TANCREDO: Well, I think you wouldnít probably even have to do that. You would Ė if they come in contact with law enforcement agents at any level of government, which often is the case in the way that people are identified as being here illegally, you would run into Ė or you would be able to identify most of the people who are here under those circumstances in that way. But it really isnít necessary. I donít think we have to even think about the difficulty to do that because I think for the most part we would have solved the problem.

BLOCK: The president on Tuesday in his State of the Union address spoke about immigration reform. And he called, as he has before, for a guest worker program. What was your reaction when you heard those words?

TANCREDO: Itís the same song, second or third or fourth verse. I donít know how many times weíve heard it, but what the president is saying is I want a guest worker plan and I want amnesty for the people who are here.

BLOCK: He would not call it amnesty.

TANCREDO: No, he doesnít call it amnesty, but heís president so he gets to redefine words. You can say, well, weíre going to fine them, or whatever. That doesnít matter. The reality is that you have just broken trust, among other things, but the people who are still waiting out there Ė there are millions of people waiting in line to come into this country, waiting to do it the right way, and when you tell people who have broken the law to come here that they can stay here, then you are simply slapping all of the folks in the face who have done it the right way, or who are waiting to.

BLOCK: You know, Congressman, if you look at the results of the midterm elections that just passed, for most voters, immigration was not a big issue. There were a number of congressmen who held positions on immigration very similar to your own who were defeated.

TANCREDO: Yeah. Youíre right; immigration was swamped by other issues. I absolutely admit that. The interesting aspect of the immigration debate, though, is where people were able to discreetly vote on the issue of immigration.

BLOCK: On a ballot issue.

TANCREDO: Not connected Ė you know, on ballot issues. They voted our way in huge numbers.

BLOCK: But if this issue isnít the key issue for voters, itís hard to see how you and your campaign would get much traction.

TANCREDO: Well, youíre right, if I only run on this issue. But there are other issues that I care about and weíll certainly discuss. This is a big one. It does touch a lot of different parts off our life, but it is not the only one.

BLOCK: Congressman Tancredo, you have said that a presidential run for you would be both audacious and idiotic. I donít know if you were joking when you said that. Do you actually, though, want to be president or do you want just to run for president to inject specifically immigration into the debate?

TANCREDO: Well, once I see the degree to which my exploratory committee has any degree of success, which once I see that, then Iíll be able to know a lot more about whether my earlier statement was accurate Ė (chuckles) Ė and if it is, then I wonít run.

BLOCK: Congressman Tancredo, thanks for coming in.

TANCREDO: Thank you very much.