Tancredo made his official announcement in Des Moines, Iowa, on WHO radio’s “Mickelson in the Morning” show with Jan Mickelson. He said most of the candidates in the Republican presidential field favor amnesty for illegal immigrants, and that his campaign would focus on tougher enforcement of immigration laws.
“I see no one who will discuss this issue as it needs to be discussed,” Tancredo said.
Political wrangling over illegal immigration erupted last year when some Republicans sided with President Bush over a guest worker program that would allow some illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. Other Republicans, with Tancredo at the forefront, opposed the guest worker program and wanted stronger border security.
Tancredo said the battle over illegal immigration is poised to “define the nation,” as illegal immigrants coming into America do not want to assimilate or are encouraged not to assimilate.
“The great tradition of the melting pot in America is not working. The melting pot is cracked,” Tancredo said.
The eight-year congressman said he advocates mandating a Social Security check system, which would require employers to verify the Social Security numbers their workers are using. Tancredo also said that effectively securing the border is “imperative for any country.”
Mickelson asked Tancredo to respond to criticism from Cardinal Roger Mahoney, head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, that there are religious grounds for showing more compassion to people from across the border. Tancredo asked where the compassion is for “people in this country whose wages have been depressed for the past decade,” as well as for people who are left behind when their family members move into the United States.
Aside from the immigration debate, Tancredo weighed in on economic issues and on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who has come under fire of late over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Tancredo said he thinks Gonzales has “misused his office.” Responding to a caller’s question about the fair tax movement, Tancredo said he supports getting rid of the Internal Revenue Service.
The immigration issue is expected to motivate Republicans in Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, said Chuck Laudner, executive director for the Republican Party of Iowa. For Iowa conservatives, Tancredo’s position on immigration “is the standard,” and his presence in the race may force other Republican candidates to take a harder stance on the issue.
“He owns the issue. Others are going to have to move that way if they want to play in that arena,” Laudner said.
Laudner added, however, that caucus-goers also are going to want to hear Tancredo’s ideas on taxes and spending, as well as national security.
“I don’t think he can talk about immigration every day until Jan. 14,” Laudner said.