Tancredo Won't Be Missed

Departing congressman's anti-immigration ideas ought to be retired with him.

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There is some good news in Congress. Rep. Tom Tancredo, the Colorado Republican with the hate-filled stand on immigration, has announced his retirement.

Tancredo is running for president, too, in case you haven't noticed. Few apparently have, since he's barely scratched in polls of the GOP race despite many days and nights in Iowa and elsewhere.

Lest we forget, Tancredo is also the member of the House who broke his own term limits pledge. He stayed two terms longer than the three he vowed to serve.

But the term limits issue is minor compared with Tancredo's hammering on the admittedly controversial issue of illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration has become a hot-button issue for demagogues, and Tancredo is a willing leader on that front.

Of course, he has company. A CNN commentator with the initials LD (I've vowed not to mention his name again) fills a so-called news program every night on prime-time television with his rants and one-sided views on immigration.

Here's the probe: The United States is nearly a fully employed nation. Unemployment is at midrange, between 4 and 5 percent. That means that jobs many workers here don't want are filled by immigrants.

For example, janitors, hotel and motel maids, unskilled day laborers, and field workers in agriculture are frequently immigrants—legal as well as illegal. Employers need them.

When the issue first erupted into a public discussion, voters were worried about the flow of jobs going overseas. U.S. companies wanted cheaper labor. This move offshore is still a problem but not as vexing as it was a few years ago.

At the same time, politicians like Tancredo have pounced on the immigration issue to inflame the public. Even local governments are moving to pass harsh laws on immigrants, nearly likening their presence to an invasion.

An immigration reform bill in Congress, one championed even by President Bush, is stymied. Bush's fellow Republicans have been the main culprits in killing it so far.

Tancredo boasted a few days ago that he can return to the Rocky Mountains because there are others in the House "that I can hand the baton to" on immigration.

Let's hope that baton gets dropped and lawmakers can solve the problem in a reasonable atmosphere without the rancor stirred up by the Tancredos or the LDs of the country.