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Pete Stark’s Minuteman mockery makes waves

Rep. Pete Stark’s sharp tone with critics once again has earned him national attention, as a video clip of Stark’s caustic repartee with a Minuteman anti-illegal-immigration activist earns major media coverage.

The video, shot by Steve Kemp of the Golden Gate Minutemen at Stark’s town-hall meeting last Saturday in Fremont, shows the Congressman needling a critic who asked about border security:

“This guy has been at every one of my town meetings and immediately gone to the Web sites, so he’s a regular. I do recognize him,” Stark said this afternoon. “I didn’t mind needling him a bit.”

But Kemp was interviewed today on Fox News’s “Your World;” CBS News and CNN have picked it up; and the Minuteman PAC is using it as a rallying cry.

“It’s an absolute outrage that a United States Congressman cares so little for his constituents and so little about the security and sovereignty of the United States that he had the gumption to ridicule and belittle his own constituents. But that’s exactly what happened!” Minutemen PAC development director Brett Anthony wrote in an e-mail blast today. “Americans are fed up with being shunned, lied to, tricked, and jeered at simply for fighting to uphold the freedom and liberty for which forefathers paid the ultimate price to guarantee.”

The phones are ringing off the hook on Capitol Hill. “We’re getting hundreds of calls, none of them from the district I might add, from all over the country saying, ‘What do you have against the Minutemen?’ or whatever,” Stark said.

So… what does he have against them?

“They see themselves as an independent militia, which may have been alright in George Washington’s time but today the government operates under rules and laws that control everybody,” he said, noting there are 20,000 border patrol agents – twice the number of a decade ago – deployed along 2,000 miles of border. “It seems to me just that number alone ought to convince them that the fed government is doing a pretty good job controlling the influx of people coming in from Mexico.”

Stark said the whole debate is “a xenophobic issue, it doesn’t differ much in Florida where they’re fearful of people from Haiti or Cuba, or New York where there’s a huge Puerto Rican population – and they’re citizens!” What it comes down to, he said, is fear of “people who speak with an accent.”

“I’m sad that that’s where our district is, but they’re not alone – it’s one of the premiere political issues of today,” he said.

As for his sarcasm, he said… well, he’s not really going into the ladder business. “That’s been a bad joke for a thousand years.”

“As I tried to explain in a more serious way, people who come across, particularly the Arizona border, they pay an awful fee to these coyotes to get them there and then they’re just dumped there on the border and they’ve got a couple hundred miles of the worst desert in our country to get across on foot,” Stark said. “They’re coming here to try to earn money to send home to their families and its hard to disrespect that, that’s an instinct that people with families have.”

This is the one thing on which he agreed with former President George W. Bush, he said – that the United States needs a comprehensive immigration reform bill including a path illegal immigrants can follow to attain legal, permanent residency. “I think we’re the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t have at least a system for allowing that to happen, and I think that causes us a lot of problems.”

UPDATE @ 4:14 P.M. WEDNESDAY 7/7: Steve Kemp just posted this to the comments, and I thought it should be appended to the post itself:

I posted this video to enlighten people who continually vote people like Stark in without a second thought of the consequences. I was born in Oakland & have watched as city after city passed laws that leave a sane person’s mouth hanging in disbelief.

With SF, Oakland, Richmond & SJ declaring themselves “sanctuary cities” for illegal aliens, our cities are looking more like third world countries than the USA!

Is it the American dream to break laws to enter a country, work under the table as the norm or steal identities to get a job, pack 2 or 3 families into a single family dwelling, drive without a license or insurance, & ignore the language spoken in America?

CA & its cities have broken under the stress of supporting illegal aliens. This is because liberal politicians such as Stark, Boxer, Pelosi, Newsom, Lee, De La Fuente & countless others have trashed our ‘American Dream’ in favor of illegal aliens.

We need leaders who place America & Americans FIRST. Anything else is treason.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.