Thomas Gerard "Tom" Tancredo (born December 20, 1945) is a Republican congressman from Colorado. He is on the record as saying he will run for president in 2008 if other candidates do not take a strong position against illegal immigration, an issue on which he has gained national attention in the past few years.
He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1999, representing the 6th Congressional District of Colorado.
Tancredo was born in Denver, Colorado. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in political science.
In 1976, while teaching history at Drake Junior High School in Denver, he ran for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives and won. He served two terms, and was one of the leaders of a group of conservative legislators referred to as "House crazies" by Democratic Governor Dick Lamm. Despite that comment, Lamm now shares Tancredo's passionate interest in immigration matters, and has frequently appeared with Tancredo to speak against current illegal immigration policy.
After Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1981, he appointed Tancredo as Denver regional representative for the Department of Education. He stayed on through the first Bush administration, paring the office's staff to 60 employees, down from 225 when he arrived. In 1993, he became president of the Independence Institute, a conservative think tank based in Golden, Colorado, serving there until his election to Congress. He was also a leader in the Colorado term limits movement.
In 1998, Dan Schaefer decided not to run for a seventh full term in the 6th District. Running on a promise to serve only three terms in Congress, Tancredo narrowly won the five-way Republican primary and went on to victory in November. He is only the second person to represent the 6th District since its creation in 1983 (former astronaut Jack Swigert was elected as the district's first congressman in 1982, but died before taking office).
Tancredo immediately attracted controversy when he refused to attend a White House party for newly elected Congressmen, saying that Bill Clinton was not "a real President." Four months into his term, the Columbine High School shooting occurred less than a mile from Tancredo's home in Littleton. He received considerable criticism for taking money from groups opposed to gun control and only took 53% of the vote in 2000, the lowest voting percentage in the district's history. However, with less opposition in subsequent elections, he was reelected in 2002 and 2004. Prior to the 2004 election, he announced that he would break his pledge and run for a fourth term in 2006 because the issue of illegal immigration required his continuing presence in Congress.
During much of the 108th Congress, Tancredo's major focus besides immigration was his opposition to ethnic and race-based caucuses in the House. However, a proposal to eliminate House recognition for them did not gain support.
He endorses the Genocide Intervention Network and has been active in pushing for the United States to increase its involvement in the Darfur conflict.
He is a co-sponsor of Ron Paul's bill, calling on the United States to withdraw from UNESCO.
Tancredo is noted for his very outspoken criticism of Bush's border control efforts and illegal immigration, and his support for general immigration reduction. His supporters claim he represents the silent majority of American citizens who want existing U.S. laws upheld. Despite Tancredo's non-English speaking, non-Protestant Italian ancestry, his critics claim he is xenophobic and that his proposed measures do not address underlying causes. He has received press attention for highlighting individual illegal immigrant families for deportation, such as that of an honor student trying to gain admission to the University of Colorado at Boulder, who had publicly complained about having to pay out-of-state tuition rates because he was illegally in the country. Tancredo also received negative publicity when the Devner Post reported that two illegal aliens were among the crew hired to remodel the congressman's basement. Tancredo defended himself by saying that he never asked about their immigration status. 
In May 1999, Tancredo founded the House Immigration Reform Caucus. He still serves as its chairman. The caucus, made up mostly of Republicans, focuses on reviewing immigration policy but has not yet been successful in implementing significant reforms.
Tancredo said he intends to visit New Hampshire, and Iowa, in order to get a leader in the White House who “understands the threat illegal immigrants pose to the country's security.” Federal prisons, he said, overflow with illegal immigrants, some of whom aim to harm people. Tancredo has said, "[t]hey need to be found before it is too late. They're coming here to kill you, and you, and me, and my grandchildren."
Tancredo founded the Team America political action committee in order to collect contributions for immigration-restrictionist inclined congressional representatives and candidates. Due to campaign law he had to resign after founding it. The current chair is Angela "Bay" Buchanan, sister of politician Pat Buchanan.
In February 2005, Tancredo announced he will seek the Republican nomination for president if all other candidates fail to address the illegal immigration problem. He is already visiting early primary states like New Hampshire. In July 2005, Tancredo confirmed that he was moving towards a presidential run. It is widely believed that the illegal immmigration issue is the most important one for conservatives, making him a dark horse candidate.
2006 election campaignEdit
Tancredo will face Democrat Bill Winter in the 2006 election campaign. He holds a substantial fundraising lead over Winter. Juan Botero, a former member of the Colombian Armed Forces and a political consultant, has threatened to challenge Tancredo in the primary.