Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL) on Tuesday faced criticism for claiming that many Latinos had trouble learning the English language because they had not fully learned Spanish.
"One of the biggest problems is -- you know, I've got some Hispanic friends -- is that a lot of those folks that don't know English, is primarily because they don't even know Spanish," he said in April at a town hall event. "They don't even know their own language. So that's why you've got these teachers coming in helping them to try and get them better with their own language and then kind of teach them. It's a pretty tough battle."
A recording of his remarks was posted online and promoted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to Quad Cities Online.
Schilling, a freshman congressman, is running against Democrat Cheri Bustos and Independent Eric Reyes in Illinois's 17th Congressional District. Both candidates said Schilling's remarks were offensive.
"It's sort of like a 'you people' comment that suggests that Latino people as a whole are not teaching their kids," Reyes said.
But Schilling claims the criticism is unwarranted.
"Congressman Schilling was clearly talking about what every freshman in high school taking Spanish 1 understands -- you must first learn the fundamentals and proper grammar of your own language before learning a second language. This is something any foreign language educator would tell you," Jon Schweppe, Schilling's campaign spokesman, told The Huffington Post.