Despite pressure from Hispanics and Republican groups, GOP Rep. Mo Brooks (AL) refuses to back away from his inflammatory comment that he would do “anything short of shooting” illegal immigrants to get them out of the United States. Brooks made the comment at a June town hall meeting — the same month when Alabama’s governor signed the toughest state immigration measure into law.
Brooks’ comments led to bipartisan calls for a retraction and apology. Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), who is head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, called on Republicans in Congress to repudiate Brooks’ comments; on its website, the national group “Somos Republicans!” called for Brooks to apologize; and Arizona Hispanic Republicans said Brooks is “no Christian Compassionate.”
Brooks insisted this week that he was speaking in hyperbole when he said in June: “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.” But even this new interpretation of his own violent rhetoric cannot be squared with the facts.
When Georgia’s draconian anti-immigration law recently caused undocumented workers to flee the state, it led to such a severe shortage of farm workers that the governor had to “beg convicts to take these jobs.” Similarly, Alabama’s own anti-immigrant law, which is the subject of a pending lawsuit, could threaten reconstruction in parts of the state destroyed by April tornadoes while further straining the state’s already severe budget woes.
As Lee Fang wrote about Brooks’ original comments, “Undocumented immigrants have faced attacks, police brutality, and other forms of violence because of exactly the same type of dehumanization and hatred espoused by lawmakers like Brooks,” and Brooks is hardly alone even among Alabama lawmakers in his use of violent rhetoric against immigrants. Earlier this year, Alabama state Sen. Scott Beason (R) advised Republicans to “empty the clip” on illegal immigrants.