A Republican congressmen this week used insensitive-sounding rhetoric while discussing immigration reform, but he did it while making the case for legalizing undocumented immigrants.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, suggested that Arab terrorists could disguise themselves as Hispanics in order to cross into the United States.
"There are people that think that -- that can't tell the difference between a Hispanic person and an Arab person," McKeon said at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post, according to video flagged by BuzzFeed. "And if you get an Arab that's trained, that's coming into this country to be a terrorist, they can mingle in and they can get in here. Then they could do damage."
But McKeon, 74, argued that's a good reason to provide legal status to undocumented immigrants, saying it would help the government identify everyone who is in the country.
"I would secure the border, I would come up with a program to make everybody here -- say 11 million -- we don't know how many there are," he said. "And we need to find out. And one way I think to do it would be to make everybody legal, give them some kind of status to bring them into the system. And then we have to follow the system."
This isn't the first time that a GOP lawmaker has suggested that Arab terrorists could disguise themselves as Hispanic. But the last time it happened, a congressman used it to argue against immigration reform.
"We know Al Qaeda has camps over with the drug cartels on the other side of the Mexican border," Rep. Louie Gohmert (Texas) said during an April C-SPAN interview. "We know that people that are now being trained to come in and act like Hispanic [sic] when they are radical Islamists. We know these things are happening. It is just insane not to protect ourselves, to make sure that people come in as most people do ... They want the freedoms we have."
Gohmert's comments were condemned by the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network (HLN).
"Rep. Louie Gohmert's comments were unacceptable, offensive, and ignorant," Jennifer Korn, then the director of HLN, said in a statement. "Using a national tragedy to further his own anti-immigration reform agenda is not only shameful, but also a blatant attempt to disingenuously twist public sentiment at a vulnerable time."