Kansas legislator suggests using hunters in helicopters to control illegal immigration, likens immigrants to feral hogs

? A legislator said Monday it might be a good idea to control illegal immigration the way the feral hog population has been controlled: with gunmen shooting from helicopters.

Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, said he was just joking, but that his comment did reflect frustration with the problem of illegal immigration.

Peck made his comment during a discussion by the House Appropriations Committee on state spending for controlling feral swine.

After one of the committee members talked about a program that uses hunters in helicopters to shoot wild swine, Peck suggested that may be a way to control illegal immigration.

Appropriations Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said Peck’s comment was inappropriate.

Rhoades said he thought Peck was joking, but added, “Hopefully he won’t do it again.”

Asked about his comment, Peck was unapologetic. “I was just speaking like a southeast Kansas person,” he said.

He said most of his constituents are upset with illegal immigration and the state and federal government response.

He said he didn’t expect any further controversy over his comment. “I think it’s over,” he said.

Last month, another state legislator, Rep. Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie, apologized after referring to a college student as an illegal immigrant because of her “olive complexion.”

Legislators this session are considering several controversial bills that supporters say will decrease illegal immigration.

One of those, House Bill 2372, would establish provisions similar to an Arizona law enacted last year.

But the House Judiciary Committee on Monday tabled the bill on a 12-8 vote.

Rep. Pat Colloton, R-Leawood, made the motion to table, saying the bill was too broad. It would have allowed law enforcement to check the status of people they reasonably suspected of being illegal immigrants, instead of requiring “probable cause.”

“This is an invitation to racial profiling,” she said.

The bill would also require state agencies and contractors to make a good faith effort to avoid hiring illegal immigrants using the federal E-Verify system. But Colloton said the way the bill was written it could have shut down charitable organizations that had unknowingly hired an illegal immigrant.

Colloton said that the bill could be reconsidered but that the vote on Monday to table the measure sends a message that it needs to be changed.