Posted by Ellen Krafve - email
EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Representative Leo Berman told a Chinese-American attorney to, quote, "go home" after an illegal immigration debate heated up.
It was just moments after the attorney, Harry Joe of Dallas, called Representative Berman, quote, "despicable" and "evil".
The issue runs deep on both sides of the argument, but there's no pulling punches in this war of words.
The exchange was brief. Attorney Harry Joe told Berman, "You did this out of spite. You did this to pander votes." To which Representative Berman later replied, "You can kiss my [expletive]."
"Perhaps I shouldn't have said that, but I was angry," Berman told us.
Representative Berman said it was a private conversation blown out of proportion.
"I wanted him to go home to Dallas where he's practicing law in violation of his oath as an attorney supporting illegal aliens," explained Berman.
Berman said he was approached first. Attorney Harry Joe spoke with us on the phone from Dallas.
"He was throwing gasoline on an issue by putting in a bill that he clearly didn't intend to support apparently," said Joe.
What sparked the debate was Texas House bill 254 that was filed by Berman and seeks to relocate all "illegal immigrants" to "sanctuary" cities.
"This is exactly what Nazi Germany did when they attacked Poland," said Joe.
"I am not a racist," said Berman.
And, he is no stranger to pushing the illegal immigration issue. He's authored more than a dozen bills aimed at addressing the topic. He said the bill was filed to send a message to mayors.
"If you're going to continue to do this, we'll just send you all these illegal aliens and let you have them all," said Berman.
"Mr. Berman represents the attitude that exists in places like in California in the late 1800's when Chinese immigrants, who built the railroads, worked the mines were literally driven out," said Joe.
"Maybe he needs to introduce a law for psychological evaluation for anyone who runs for public office," said Gus Ramirez.
Ramirez ran against Berman back in 2006, and lost. He said East Texas is changing and...
"You were elected to represent all your constituency in that district," said Ramirez.
"Better than 90 percent of the people in my district want something done about illegal aliens, and I hope we can do something," said Berman.