Tancredo: Tea Party Movement Can Learn From Anti-Immigrant Amnesty Fight

February 05, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

NASHVILLE — Former congressman Tom Tancredo is the only former federal officeholder working the rooms at the National Tea Party Convention, and he followed up a fiery speech last night with a short address today at a breakout session on immigration run by Numbers USA. He informed a crowd of older-skewing activists that Tea Party-style activism helped sink immigration compromises in the Bush era.

“I faced two big problems in Congress,” said Tancredo, “the Democrats and the Republicans. … The only way we got anything done was to go around Congress.” Tancredo pointed at his audience. “This kind of thing translates.” By the end of his tenure in Congress, said Tancredo, “I had to put on my tennis shoes and sprint to the floor to introduce an immigration amendment, because everyone else was doing it.”

Roy Beck, the executive director of Numbers USA, made the case that stopping illegal immigration was the key to solving most of America’s economic problems. “We imported the health care crisis!” said Beck. “Every year we import one to one and a half million immigrants, and most of them go on welfare.” Beck provided cards with graphs that purported to show how illegal immigration was at the root of America’s biggest problems, and proposed five fixes: Rep. Phil Gingrey’s (R-Ga.) HR 878, which would ban chain immigration; Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) HR 2305, which would end the lottery; Rep. Heath Shuler’s (D-N.C.) SAVE Act (HR 3308); employment visas; and a SAVE system in general.