One week ago, the Kansas House Federal and State Committee held a hearing about in-state tuition being granted to the children of undocumented immigrants, which has been the policy in the state since 2004.
Speaking in favor of repealing the law, Rep. Connie O’Brien (R-KS) began telling an anecdote at the hearing about how her son had difficulty in getting financial assistance to attend college. She explained that she took her son to a financial aid office, and as she was waiting in line, she believed there was a girl waiting in line with them who was “not originally from this country.” Fellow committee member Rep. Sean Gatewood (D-KS) asked O’Brien how she knew this student was “illegal.” O’Brien replied that she knew because the student “wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian, and she had the olive complexion”:
REP. O’BRIEN: My son who’s a Kansas resident, born here, raised here, didn’t qualify for any financial aid. Yet this girl was going to get financial aid. My son was kinda upset about it because he works and pays for his own schooling and his books and everything and he didn’t think that was fair. We didn’t ask the girl what nationality she was, we didn’t think that was proper. But we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country. [...]
REP. GATEWOOD: Can you expand on how you could tell that they were illegal?
REP. O’BRIEN: Well she wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian, and she had the olive complexion.
Listen to it:
O’Brien has been the target of scathing media coverage since her remark, and numerous Kansas Democratic Party lawmakers have asked her to apologize. For her part, O’Brien counters that she’s been told she’s “got olive complexion” and that she’s not going to apologize until she’s “had time to think.”