Rep. apologizes for remark about shooting illegal immigrants

03/16/2011 12:00 AM

03/16/2011 6:50 AM

Facing calls for his resignation, Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, issued an apology Tuesday for saying that perhaps the state should resort to shooting illegal immigrants.

"Looks like to me, if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem," Peck said Monday in the House Appropriations Committee in a discussion about the problem of feral swine in Kansas.

Peck issued a simple statement: "My statements yesterday were regrettable. Please accept my apology."

Earlier, he had said he intended the comment to be a joke. He justified his remark by explaining that he was "just speaking like a southeast Kansas person."

Peck's comment drew a rebuke from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday morning. The governor said that Peck should apologize.

Brownback said he understood how people have become increasingly frustrated about illegal immigration. But he said Peck's remarks were out of line.

"This isn't the way to handle it or deal with it. I think it's completely inappropriate," Brownback said at a news conference.

"This is no way to discuss the issue."

Peck's comment also was denounced by a group of legislators from southeast Kansas in a resolution signed by Rep. Jim Kelly, R-Independence; Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy; Rep. Jerry Williams, D-Chanute; Rep. Bob Grant, D-Cherokee; and Rep. Doug Gatewood, D-Columbus.

Peck told the Montgomery County Chronicle, a newspaper in his district, that his comment was made in a "tongue and cheek manner" at the spur of the moment. He said he regretted it.

"It's been a learning experience for me," he told the Chronicle. "Now I just wish it would go away."

The League of United Latin American Citizens called for Peck's resignation.

"Representative Peck's comments about shooting immigrants and likening them to hogs are an outrageous dehumanization of hardworking Kansas residents," said Margaret Moran, LULAC national president.

"When a politician speaks of shooting immigrants, even if supposedly done as a joke, the message sent to his or her constituents is that actual violence against immigrants is condoned by their government," she said in a statement.

Peck is serving his fourth term in the House.

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