In response to public comments she made in a Federal and State Affairs Committee meeting in Topeka, Kansas, where she said that people with “that olive complexion” were illegal immigrants, Kansas state Rep. Connie O’Brien (R-Tonganoxie) apologized for her remarks. O’Brien was supporting the repeal of a Kansas law that allowed children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition to college.
As The Miami Herald reported:
Rep. Connie O’Brien, a Tonganoxie Republican, was speaking in favor of rescinding the law when she recounted a story about a student she saw while enrolling her son at Kansas City Kansas Community College last year.
The female student was in line to pick up scholarship money but couldn’t provide a driver’s license or other government ID to the clerk, O’Brien recalled. Yet the woman said she had driven to the college that day.
“We could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country,” O’Brien said.
Another lawmaker asked O’Brien how she could tell the woman wasn’t a legal citizen.
O’Brien replied: “Well, she wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian and she had the olive complexion.”
O’Brien then continued: “It struck me that she didn’t have a driver’s license (and) she’s driving on our streets. That’s illegal.”
Even though O’Brien has begun to apologize for what she said, she still claims that the student in question was not a United States citizen. O’Brien has not presented any proof to back up her claim.
I emailed O’Brien the following on February 16:
In light of your public comments about Latino immigrants, I am requesting a formal interview to discuss this story. Can you let me know if you would like to comment and talk with us? I am a Latino blogger who focuses on politics. Thank you! Julio Ricardo Varela
On February 17, O’Brien responded with this email to me:
After contemplating the statements I made in the Federal and State Affairs Committee meeting, I understand how they could have been misconstrued. I misspoke and apologize to those I offended. I have learned from this situation and will be more careful with my choice of words in the future.
The student in question did not have a driver’s license, government identification or any other form of documentation. From the situation, it was clear that the student was not a United States citizen. However, I should have been more precise in stating why it was clear that she was not a legal citizen.
Thank you for the interview invitation. However, I have apologized and am moving forward.