Texas Tea Party Leader: 'We Have 36 Hispanics In The Legislature...We Need To Change Those Numbers'

June 16, 2011 10:07 am ET — Salvatore Colleluori

Texas Tea Party leader Rebecca Forest garnered criticism for remarks she made this past weekend regarding the number of Hispanics in the Texas legislature:

If you want to know why we can't pass [immigration] legislation in Texas it's because we have 37, no 36, Hispanics in the Legislature. All of the states that have passed legislation have a handful and I mean literally, some of them have no Hispanic legislators, well, maybe 3 or 5 or something. So that's part of our problem and we need to change those numbers.

Despite general outrage from Republicans and Democrats alike, George Rodriguez, president of the San Antonio Tea Party, attempted to relieve Forest of responsibility for her statement. In responding to her comments, Rodriguez explained, "That was an unfortunate choice of words. I completely disagree with that." He added, however, "I think there are many people who are new to politics who are used to speaking their mind rather than understanding they are going to be held responsible for everything you say." Rodriguez is either doing damage control or doesn't know Forest very well.

A far cry from a newcomer, Forest is a veteran of anti-immigration rhetoric who has co-founded at least three anti-immigration organizations, including the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas (IRCOT), whose website claims that they "harbor no disrespect toward immigrants" but rather "support legal immigration (at reasonable levels) of those desiring to enter legally, assimilate, and become Americans." Looking past the facade of the website's relatively benign statement, however, reveals links to minutemen and militia organizations and a Summer 2008 IRCOT newsletter that promotes a seminar from anti-immigration hate group FAIR.

Forest has moved on from IRCOT and is now the executive director of the Texas Alliance for America Legal Defense and Education Fund (TAALDEF), which she also co-founded. Forest has said she hopes to use the group to "level the playing field in the battle for rule-of-law immigration policy."

But despite no longer running IRCOT, Forest's legacy there remains intact. One speech she gave at a 2009 Memorial Day event, which is still featured on IRCOT's media player, is particularly telling of the organization and of Forest's anti-immigrant zeal. At one point in the nine-minute video, she claims that lawmakers are failing in their constitutional duty to "secure U.S. citizens from invasion by foreign-born populations." The video as a whole shows that, contrary to Rodriguez's assertion, Forest's recent comments were not those of a novice, but of someone who has been calculated in her anti-immigrant rhetoric for years. No excuses should be made by Rodriguez or Forest to defend such hateful rhetoric.

Read more highlights from the Memorial Day 2009 speech after the jump.

The lawmakers working in the people's building behind me must be reminded that they were elected to represent and provide for the safety and prosperity of U.S. citizens who reside in Texas. It also seems that they need to be reminded of their duties under both the Texas and the U.S. Constitutions to secure U.S. citizens from invasion by foreign-born populations. ... Over 75 percent of our foreign-born population was born in Latin America, and of that number 63 percent were born in Mexico. ... It sounds like an invasion actually.

So even with the governor's public statement that our communities are being infiltrated by extremely dangerous and violent transnational gangs working with the Mexican cartels, even with us telling them about the Mexican cartels recruiting U.S. teens and training them in Mexico to become sleeper hit men in the United States, and even with the recent outbreak of swine flu, which originated in Mexico, many of our Texas legislators continue to fail to act this session.

Even if we were only talking about 11-12 million that number would end up being between 66 and 200 million due to our flawed chain migration policies. And guess what folks? We already have a guest worker program. There are some 25 plus visa programs to provide labor to these businesses. There is no such thing as a guest worker with the current misinterpretation of the 14th amendment. Once a guest worker has a child on U.S. soil, it is very unlikely that they will be made to leave due to that anchor baby.