The Candidates: Rep. Tom Tancredo

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) announced his candidacy on a radio talk show.
Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) announced his candidacy on a radio talk show. (By Kevin Sanders -- Associated Press)

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Rep. Tom Tancredo
Republican Candidate for President, U.S. Rep. (R-Colo.)
Thursday, October 11, 2007; 3:30 PM

The Concord Monitor, Cedar Rapids Gazette and washingtonpost.com will host a series of live discussions with Republicans and Democrats running for president to give readers the opportunity to share thoughts and questions directly with the candidates.

Rep. Tom Tancredo was online Thursday, Oct. 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET to take your questions on the campaign and his vision for the United States.

Submit questions to one of the other primary candidates or read the transcript of their discussion

The transcript follows.

Tancredo is a five-term U.S. representative from Colorado. Prior to that he spent five years in the Colorado State Legislature and was a regional Department of Education representative.

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Rep. Tom Tancredo: Let's chat.

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Mesa, Ariz.: Please share your thoughts regarding the recent ruling by a federal judge to stop the U. S. government from using mismatched Social Security numbers to determine illegal immigrants in the workplace. I think millions of American citizens are upset that our federal, state and local judges are taking it upon themselves to interfere with illegal immigration laws and ordinances.

washingtonpost.com: Effort to Curb Illegal Workers' Hiring Blocked (Post, Oct. 11)

Rep. Tom Tancredo: Well, what do you expect from a San Francisco judge, first of all? On top of that we have mayors of several cities in Texas who are trying to stop the fence from being built, you've got cities declaring themselves sanctuary cities -- it's a mess. And it's all because the federal government hasn't been enforcing immigration laws for the past 30 years.

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Nashua, N.H.: Dear President-to-Be Tom, in 100 words or less, please lay out for me and the rest of like-minded Americans just what it takes to finish the southern border. Second,as president what would you say to ex-president of Mexico Fox. and to the current one -- this can be a bit longer and please do no delete the expletives. Can you have them explain (and I mean answer the question) of why they think it is okay to have a military-protected border on their south but we can't?

Rep. Tom Tancredo: We absolutely must construct a barrier across the Southern border. It's a three-layer defense barrier that is a 15-foot fence, a road used by the border patrol, and then another fence about 50 yards out. All of this could be sensored to detect a breach.

Regarding Fox: Chutzpah. I don't know how you say that in Spanish, but that's what he's got!

What's even more infuriating than his comments is the total silence from the White House.

The President and the State Department should condemn the comments by President Calderon when he said that Mexico extends to wherever there are Mexicans. They should also send an atlas!

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Phoenix: Tom -- this family appreciates your relentless fight to stop illegal immigration. We thank you for that commitment! Here in the Phoenix area we are seeing more and more businesses with Spanish names. The same is happening on a smaller scale in many Iowa towns and throughout the nation. We are wondering how these people can afford to own businesses, when my son can't secure a loan to start his own business.

Rep. Tom Tancredo: I don't know the answer to your question about how these businesses are securing loans, but I can tell you that I believe a significant part of the subprime mortgage debacle is a result of hundreds of thousands of fraudulent loans being made to illegal immigrants. In Jefferson County, Colo., the district attorney prosecuted three realtors and six mortgage brokers for falsifying documents and selling 270 homes to people who were here illegally. Multiply that out across the country and you can see potential for a crisis.

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Cedar Rapids, Iowa: How can we depoliticize the Supreme Court?

Rep. Tom Tancredo: We can't. Regardless of the protestations of nominees that they come to a court without a political bias, that is not within the realm of possibility. Every president submits nominees based on the hope that if appointed, the judge will vote the "right" way.

From my point of view, the right way is a recognition that the Constitution is a limiting, not living, document.

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Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Mr. Tancredo, based on the latest court ruling in San Francisco concerning illegal immigrants and trying to use social security numbers to identify them, why isn't the Department of Homeland Security spending more effort on terrorism than on people trying to support themselves and their families? Shouldn't the Department of Homeland Security really be focused on terrorism and the real threats to our national security?

Rep. Tom Tancredo: I believe that a major part of the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security is to reduce the number of people coming into this country without our knowledge or permission. It is likewise its duty to try and reduce the number of people who are here in that category. In doing so, it is tasked with identifying those who pose serious threats to the nation so that they find it difficult to remain undiscovered.

We know that people with terrorist connections have entered this country illegally. They then immediately are provided with the "cover" of a job, a residence and all the necessary documentation that allows them to stay under the radar.

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Merrimack, N.H.: Sir, what is your position on global warming, and what would you do as president to lower global temperatures?

Rep. Tom Tancredo: We very well may be experiencing the phenomenon known as global warming. Whether it is natural or man-made is disputed. However, I believe we can accomplish the goal of reducing carbon emissions by aggressively seeking alternative energy sources, especially nuclear. I think we must do so for national security reasons. In a way, it makes the debate about global warming and its cause moot.

By the way, it is interesting to note that the single greatest cause of the imbalance in our trade account is the importation of oil -- not toys from China decorated with lead paint.

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North Dighton, Mass.: Will you repeal the unfair tax on social security that was imposed by President Reagan in 1983 and then increased by President Clinton in 1994?

Rep. Tom Tancredo: Of course as president, I couldn't "repeal" anything. What I could do is push for a complete overhaul of our tax system. I support a consumption tax to replace the present income tax -- that certainly would solve the problem to which you are referring.

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Boston: As an opponent of additional taxation, why do you support additional tariffs, which are consumer-borne sales taxes based upon country of origin? Tariffs aren't paid by foreign countries, they are paid by American importers and passed on to American consumers.

Rep. Tom Tancredo: There are trade agreements that reduced tariffs that I have supported. There are others I have opposed. My opposition is based on the fact that many of these agreements contain far more than trade-related issues. CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement) was supposed to simply eliminate tariffs on goods produced and exported within six Central American countries and the United States. That bill could have been two pages long. In reality, it was more than a thousand! Much of it dealt with immigration-related issues. There's no reason why we can't have mutually beneficial trade arrangements that do not compromise national sovereignty.

By the way, it is much easier to construct such an agreement on a bilateral, rather than multilateral, basis.

An interesting little factoid: These agreements used to be called treaties, and are more properly identified as such. We stopped calling them that because they would need to be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. Now all it takes is 50 percent plus one of both Houses.

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Madrid, Iowa: Can you share a few adjectives that describe your feelings toward the No Child Left Behind act?

Rep. Tom Tancredo: Intrusive. Unconstitutional.

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Concord, N.H.: Could you please detail what you mean by "consumption" tax. Thank you.

Rep. Tom Tancredo: A consumption tax is a sales tax. There's a great book on it written, called "The Fair Tax Book: Saying Goodbye to the Income Tax and the IRS," by Rep. John Linder and Neal Boortz.

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Miami: As a proud citizen of Miami, I was extremely hurt when you called my city a "Third-World country." Were you misquoted? If not, could you please explain?

Rep. Tom Tancredo: I'm running short on time, so I'll make this quick. I was referring to an attitude expressed by a Cuban immigrant who was quoted in a Time Magazine article as saying: "In Miami there is no pressure to be American."

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Rep. Tom Tancredo: I've run out of time everyone, but I've enjoyed answering the questions I could get to. God bless.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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