As a Kansan, yesterday I was saddened to hear a representative from my home state sink to a new low. The Lawrence Journal World reported that Kansas state Representative Virgil Peck (R) said "it might be a good idea to control illegal immigration the way the feral hog population has been controlled—with hunters shooting from helicopters."
Unfortunately, this is not the first time a legislator in our nation has compared undocumented immigrants to animals or much worse. But advocating for shooting humans from helicopters is far beyond unacceptable. Ironically, Representative Peck’s comment comes just days after the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) launched our Pledge for Respect campaign. It appears the campaign couldn’t have come at a more timely moment.
Just last Thursday, hundreds of Latino leaders from NCLR’s Affiliate Network met with their members of Congress in Washington, DC and asked them to sign a pledge to respect the Latino community, commit to encouraging civil discourse in the political process, and publicly oppose irresponsible rhetoric that dehumanizes and scapegoats Latinos.
Apparently, we need to circulate the pledge in my home state of Kansas as well. To add insult to injury, when Representative Peck was asked about his comment, he did not apologize. Instead he said, “I was just speaking like a southeast Kansas person.” So not only does he see no problem with insulting immigrants and Latinos, now he’s adding Kansans to the mix.
He was then quoted as saying “I think it’s over,” and that he did not expect any more controversy over his comment. Well, I beg to differ.
Join me in telling Representative Peck that it’s far from over!
It appears that he doesn’t seem to think he has done anything wrong and he needs to understand that this type of rhetoric has no place in our public discourse. That’s why we are also asking Speaker Mike O’Neal of the Kansas House of Representatives to call for an apology and an end to this intolerance in the Kansas legislature.
We understand that our country is tired of federal inaction on immigration reform. But dehumanizing and scapegoating immigrants is not a solution. We look to our elected officials as leaders in our nation and we demand that they start acting like it.
Kansans, and all Americans, deserve better.
President and CEO