- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2017

DENVER — A Colorado Democratic legislator has ignited a debate over identity politics by referring to a Republican lawmaker as “half-Latino.”

The Republican, state Rep. Dave Williams, fired back Wednesday after video emerged showing Democratic state Rep. Joe Salazar blasting Mr. Williams over his bill to penalize public officials for sanctuary-city laws.

“Write his name down. Rep. Dave Williams. He is half-Latino. Write his name down, and call him tomorrow,” Mr. Salazar told the Colorado Latino Forum. “Visit his office tomorrow and tell him that we will not tolerate any more divisiveness coming from the Republican Party.”

In a speech on the state House floor, Mr. Williams said the comments “crossed the line.”

“One of our members referred to me a as a ‘half-Latino,’ and this term was used as a means to diminish my standing on this policy issue and to lessen my credibility within the Latino community,” Mr. Williams said. “These tactics are disgraceful and in poor taste. I’m sorry that my surname doesn’t match my ethnicity or my heritage, but I’m proud of who I am and where I come from.”

He added, “I get the partisanship of this place, and I understand the need for both sides to score political points from time to time, but this crossed the line. This was disrespectful to me and to my family. The very implication that my voice on matters concerning the Latino community doesn’t count because I’m not full-blooded, this is something that should not be tolerated.”

Conservatives rushed to Mr. Williams‘ defense on social media, likening the “half-Latino” remark to calling someone a “mudblood” in the “Harry Potter” book series, and noting that Democrats never referred to President Obama as “half-black.”

Mr. Salazar dismissed the brouhaha as a non-issue, telling 9News, “This has nothing to do with identity politics.”

“This has to do with the fact that it is in fact a truth that he described himself that way,” Mr. Salazar said. “So he can try to make hay out of it as much as he wants, but the ultimate situation that we’re looking at here is he’s bringing a bill that’s hateful, it’s spiteful, and it terrorizes the Latino community.”

Mr. Williams‘ bill would establish criminal and civil liability for public officials who approve sanctuary-city laws, allowing victims of crimes committed by illegal aliens within the jurisdiction to seek damages.

The Colorado bill is unlikely to pass, given the Democratic majority in the House, but has inspired lawmakers in at least three other states to pursue similar legislation, according to the Colorado Statesman.

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