Rep. Tom Tancredo says his fellow Republican presidential candidates are aiding immigrants in breaking the law by taking part in this weekend's Spanish-language debate in Miami.
"What all my colleagues — what the other candidates are doing — it's encouraging violation of the law because it's saying, 'Don't worry about the fact that you have to know English to earn citizenship,' " said Mr. Tancredo, the only Republican to turn down the invitation from Univision for Sunday night's debate and who said the other candidates' participation was worse than pandering.
For the Colorado congressman, it's a matter of principle: He said the other candidates are contributing to the Balkanization of the country by joining the debate, in which the candidates will speak English, but their answers will be translated into Spanish for broadcast on the nation's largest Spanish-language network.
Mr. Tancredo said it was a "no-brainer" to reject Univision's invitation, but his decision has been widely debated on the Internet, and some of his supporters said he is missing a chance to take his message where it needs to be heard.
Mr. Tancredo said he expects his voice is being heard this way. "My not being there is probably the strongest statement I can make on this issue," he said.
He also rejected the criticism that he is refusing to address a particular audience, saying this is purely an issue of language. He was the only Republican candidate to accept an invitation to speak to the annual convention of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People this year.
Asked if he would watch the debate from home, he said that wasn't the plan: "Nah, I don't know Spanish."
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