Rep. Ted Poe Compares Immigrants To Grasshoppers

April 30, 2010 10:57 am ET — Walid Zafar

As the issue of immigration heats up, you can expect conservative legislators to make increasingly controversial and incendiary statements.  Last week, for example, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) claimed that police officers could spot undocumented immigrants by the clothes and shoes they were wearing.

Then this week, a Congressional candidate in Iowa wondered why we couldn't just "microchip an illegal."  These statements came on the heels of a recently-passed law in Arizona which allows law enforcement to stop anyone they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant.

Speaking on the House floor last night, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), who has been a vocal voice in the bipartisan movement to increase border security, had a peculiar and offensive way of framing the issue.

Poe: "Now it seems to me that if we are so advanced with technology and manpower and competence that we can capture illegal grasshoppers from Brazil, in the holds of ships that are in a little small place in Port Arthur, Texas on the Sabine River.  Sabin River, madam speaker, is the river that separates Texas from Louisiana.  If we're able to do that as a country, how come we can't capture the thousands of people that cross the border everyday on the southern border of the United States?  You know they're a little bigger than grasshoppers and they should be able to be captured easier.

The issue of security is a real one. And comprehensive immigration reform will need to addresses the issue head-on.  But Poe's language last night, far from adding anything to the debate, is further proof that Republicans are willing to say virtually anything to get their point across.