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Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants



Congressman Tom Tancredo

In the late summer of 2001, when we first started shooting, Rep. Tancredo was one of very few people in Washington who opposed the US/Mexico migration accord that was being negotiated between the two countries. In the House of Representative the Colorado Congressman had started a caucus to advocate for tighter immigration controls, but very few of his colleagues joined him-- they supported President Bush‘s proposal to “match willing workers with willing employers.

Just a few years later, Rep. Tancredo was running for President, and many of his fellow Republican candidates had, for the most part, adopted his immigration platform. It was a stunning transition from the afternoon in 2002 when he and his staff were joking around, handicapping a vote on the Border Security Bill. They said it was a long-shot, but if 100 Congressmen voted with them it would be considered a major coup for his Caucus. In the end 137 Representatives voted with him-- in retrospect it stands out as a real turning point.

Congressman Tancredo was born in Denver, he was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1976. He was appointed by President Reagan to the Department of Education, and elected to the US House of Representatives in 1998. Rep. Tancredo was one of the first in the House to focus on the human rights crisis in Sudan, and in a moment of Hill synergy, cosponsored the Sudan Peace Act with Sen. Sam Brownback. He and Sen. Brownback are polar opposites on immigration, but for Rep. Tancredo‘s first Congressional trip he and Sen. Brownback went on a dangerous fact-finding trip to Sudan-- they even snuck across the border-- illegally-- from Kenya.

The grandson of Italian Immigrants, Rep. Tancredo was born and raised in Denver Colorado. He married his wife Jackie in 1977. They have two sons and five grandchildren.

Congressman Tom Tancredo appears in Stories 1 The Game Is On, and 2 Mountains and Clouds
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