WASHINGTON - The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is pushing back on a Republican lawmaker's rhetoric that he would do anything to stop illegal immigrants "short of shooting them."
Texas congressman Charles Gonzalez said in a USA Today report, "words have consequences" as he denounced the comment made recently by Alabama congressman Mo Brooks.
"As your congressman on the House floor, I will do anything short of shooting them. Anything that is lawful, it needs to be done because illegal aliens need to quit taking jobs from American citizens," Brooks said to WHNT, an Alabama TV station.
Alabama is one of several states to follow Arizona's lead in cracking down on illegal immigration. The Alabama law allows law enforcement to detain someone stopped for questioning who cannot prove their legal status and requires schools to determine if students can be legally in the United States.
Gonzalez said rhetoric that refers to acts of violence has "no place in the discussion for realistic solutions to our country's immigration problems." He said Brooks chose "irresponsible words that reflect a hateful, dehumanizing undercurrent" in the immigration debate.
Brooks, in the WHNT interview, was candid about his opposition to illegal immigrants. "They have no right to be here. They are clogging up our emergency rooms, and making our education system more expensive. If you go to the Madison County Jail, there are far too many illegal aliens there because they have victimized Americans," he said.
The new Alabama statute has sparked protests and lawsuits. The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of civil rights group, which is suing to block the Alabama law, call the measure "draconian" and even harsher than Arizona's legislation.