Talk Loudly, Ignore Stick

September 2007
Anybody who hears the name Tom Tancredo probably associates the Colorado congressman with illegal immigration. Tancredo has been banging the drums on this issue for a long time, and it's hard to argue that he's not at least somewhat responsible - both here and around the country - for the increased discussion on illegal immigration reform. Tancredo says that he is running for President in order to keep the issue in the forefront among the other candidates, and he gleefully points out that it is because of him that frontrunners such as Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani spend more time talking about illegal immigration. Tancredo is the pied piper of immigration reform, because wherever he goes, the subject follows him. Tancredo is truly a master of self-promotion, and I have to give credit where credit is due: Illegal immigration would probably not be as big of a national topic were it not for his efforts. But there's one thing that's always really bothered me about Tancredo, and I'm not talking about his threats to blow up Mecca. Tancredo says that we need to fix our borders. We need to deport illegal immigrants! We need strong sanctions for businesses and local governments that don't do enough to stem the flow of immigration! He'll tell you that things need to change, and they need to change now! Maybe he's right. Maybe he's not. But what drives me nuts is that he won't actually do anything about it himself. And it's not like the guy isn't in a position to do something - he's a freakin' congressman, for crying out loud. He doesn't have to convince someone to write a get-tough-on-immigration bill. He can write the damn thing himself. But see, Tancredo is all bluster and blowhard. He'd rather talk about immigration reform than roll up his sleeves and do something about it. He'd rather drive around the Southwest in a mobile home preaching about the dangers of illegal immigration rather than drive his ass back to his office to draft a damn bill. But don't take my word for it. Check out this story from The Denver Post:
Call it congressional amnesia. Rep. Tom Tancredo two months ago announced a far- reaching proposal to rewrite immigration laws. Today that plan is missing in action. The Republican congressman from Littleton never submitted the bill he trumpeted in July, legislation that would severely limit family-based legal immigration, imprison employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and deny citizenship to babies of illegal immigrants who are born in the U.S. Tancredo's spokesman said that the congressman and his staff have been busy and that perhaps it just slipped their minds. "We've been fighting a lot of other fights" on immigration, said Tancredo spokesman Carlos Espinosa. "Are we going back to that? Of course we are." Tancredo, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, also has been hard to pin down, Espinosa said... ...Espinosa said it's not as though Tancredo has let the issue of immigration drop. "The issue itself we're still keeping front and center," Espinosa said. "It's not like Tom has ever changed the subject. Ever."
Espinoza is right: Tancredo never does change the subject from illegal immigration. It's just that he's so damn busy talking about what other people should do about it that he doesn't seem to make time to ACTUALLY WRITE A DAMN BILL. I wish more people, including more members of the media, knew how little work Tancredo actually does on illegal immigration reform. That's swell that he travels the country talking about what a problem immigration has become, but it's a little like having a huge fat guy as a personal trainer. Unlike you and me, Tancredo is actually in a position of power where he can work on legislation that could lead to changes (and don't come to his defense for any of his asinine proposals, like deporting every illegal immigrant, that are too completely unrealistic to even bother discussing). If Tancredo wants to fly all over the place ranting and raving about illegal immigration, he should go nuts with that. But he shouldn't be a congressman if he's not going to be a congressman. Then he'd have a lot more time on his hands to not do anything.