Back in April, as the latest debate over immigration reform was beginning in earnest, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) raised eyebrows when he argued that radical Islamists are training to “act like Hispanic,” so Congress should reject immigration reform to prevent terrorism. “It is just insane not to protect ourselves,” he added. Insane, indeed, congressman.
Apparently, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) missed the story at the time, because as Andrew Kaczynski reported, he made very similar remarks last week.
The audio is admittedly very tough to hear, but as Kaczynski noted, McKeon argued that “Arab persons” might leave the Middle East, move to Mexico, disguise themselves as Latinos, then enter the United States.
“There are people that can’t tell the difference between a Hispanic person and an Arab person,” the congressman argued, adding, “They can mingle in, and they can get in here, and then they can do damage.”
So, let’s consider the Republican message to Latinos in a nutshell: when the GOP isn’t accusing you of being lazy and/or drug mules, the party’s elected lawmakers are also questioning whether you might inadvertently help terrorists by looking like al Qaeda. (I was, by the way, quite fond of Kal Penn’s response.)
Jon Chait predicted four months ago, “A drawn-out immigration debate commanding center stage will simply create more opportunities for conservative Republicans to say offensive things about Latinos. And make no doubt: however diligently their consultants coach them not to, they will say offensive things about Latinos.”
And sure enough, this continues to hold up quite well.