February 19, 2009

sanctuary cities for 'illegal immigrants'

From The Dallas Morning News:

AUSTIN – In a heated exchange over immigration Wednesday, Rep. Leo Berman shouted "go home!" to a Dallas lawyer of Chinese-American descent who had called the lawmaker "despicable" and "evil."

The confrontation followed a panel discussion on the issue, where Berman, R-Tyler, spoke about his bill to relocate illegal immigrants to "sanctuary cities," where law officers are instructed not to ask people they encounter about their immigration status.

Harry Joe, who practices immigration law with the Winstead law firm, approached Berman afterwards, and the discussion soon turned angry.

Joe acknowledged calling Berman "despicable" and "an evil man," and Berman countered with the "go home" remark and told Joe that he could "kiss my [expletive]."

The argument was overheard by a reporter and several spectators.

Joe later apologized for his remarks, but Berman declined to comment further.

"I'm not saying anything about it," Berman said. "This was a private discussion, and I do not owe him an apology, not after what he said to me."

Berman has helped author eight bills aimed at illegal immigrants, including provisions to challenge birthright citizenship, bar illegal immigrants from public universities and tax money orders sent between Texas and Mexico.

The exchange focused on a provision that would require all illegal immigrants to relocate to self-designated "sanctuary cities."

Berman said the bill was intended to "send a message" to cities across the state, a message that Joe called spiteful. Joe said that the proposal, which Berman said he recently withdrew, "looked like a bill the Nazis would have passed."

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