Colorado State Representative Douglas Bruce is back in the news today due to comments he made during a debate on legislation. In his short tenure as a legislator, he has become an embarrassment. His comments have no place in the public discourse, let alone in the State Capitol.
State Rep. Douglas Bruce, who has a history of provoking controversy, made the comment during debate on a bill that would allow the state to help immigrant workers get temporary federal visas. The measure is intended to ease a shortage of farm workers in the state.
“I would like to have the opportunity to state at the microphone why I don’t think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado,” Bruce said.
Whatever position one takes on immigration and undocumented workers, there is no just cause for a legislator to resort to demeaning insults. Bruce later defended his remarks:
“I looked up ‘illiterate’ in the dictionary and it means somebody who is lacking in formal education or is unable to read and write,” he said. “I don’t think these people who are planning to come over here and pick potatoes or peaches are likely to have much of a formal education. I looked up the word ‘peasant.’ The word ‘peasant’ means a person who works in agricultural fields.
“These people, most of them, don’t speak English. Most of them haven’t had any formal education, that’s why they’re coming over here. I don’t blame them for trying, but I don’t think we should pave the way for more aliens to come here,” he said.
Mr. Bruce’s mean-spirited comments have made national news.
As to the legislation that was the subject of the debate:
House Bill 1325, by Rep. Marsha Looper, would create a five-year pilot program to expedite approval of temporary seasonal foreign workers to help harvest crops that have sometimes rotted in the fields because of a labor shortage.
Memo to Mr. Bruce: Get a talk show if you want to spout bigotry. Our legislature and your constituents deserve better.