Rep. Tom Tancredo, a leading advocate of strong action against illegal immigration, said the heavily Hispanic city of Miami is a "Third World” country.
In Palm Beach, Fla., to attend a November 18-19 gathering of conservative activists, the Colorado Republican pointed to Miami as an example of how "the nature of America can be changed by uncontrolled immigration.”
Miami’s population was 65.7 percent Hispanic during the 2000 Census, and the city and surrounding municipalities also have significant populations of Haitians.
"Look at what happened to Miami,” Tancredo said in an interview, according to the WorldNetDaily Web site.
"It has become a Third World country. You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you’re in the United States of America. You would certainly say you’re in a Third World country.”
Tancredo, chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, said Monday in an e-mail sent by his office that his comparison with a Third World country was based on crime statistics he believes "are deeply rooted in the immigration debate . . .
"Moreover, the sheer size and number of ethnic enclaves devoid of any English and dominated by foreign cultures is widespread. Frankly, many of these areas could have been located in another country. And until America gets serious about demanding assimilation, this problem will continue to spread.”
Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen took issue with Tancredo, saying he was "flat out wrong,” the Miami Herald reports.
"I invite my friend, Tom, to visit beautiful Miami, my hometown, and experience firsthand our hospitality,” Ros-Lehtinen said. "Come on down, Tom, the water’s fine.”