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Rep. Goode: No Apology For Muslim Letter

U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA)
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A spokesperson for Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., says the congressman has no intention of apologizing for his comments about Muslims in a letter to constituents, CBS News has learned.

Goode is holding a news conference Thursday afternoon, following reactions to his remarks from the Muslim-American community and one Democratic congressman, CBS News Capitol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.

The Republican congressman told constituents that unless immigration is tightened, "many more Muslims" will be elected and follow the lead of a recently elected lawmaker who plans to use the Quran at his ceremonial swearing-in.

Goode made the comments in a letter sent earlier this month to hundreds of constituents who had written to him about Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim elected to Congress. Goode's letter triggered angry responses from a New Jersey congressman and an Islamic civil rights group.

Goode made the comments in a letter sent to hundreds of constituents about Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress.

"The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district, and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran," Goode wrote.

Goode said the U.S. needs to stop illegal immigration "totally" and reduce legal immigration.

Goode added: "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped."

Ellison was born in Detroit and converted to Islam in college. He did not immediately return a telephone message left Wednesday.

"Virgil Goode went into a diatribe about immigration without knowing Ellison was born in the U.S.," Arsalan Iftikhar, national legal director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told CBSNews.com. "It shows the level of ignorance and lack of education that Congressman Goode has."

Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell, whose New Jersey district is home to many Muslim-Americans, is also upset about Goode's comments. Pascrell said Wednesday that he was "greatly disappointed and in fact startled" by Goode's letter,

CAIR has called on Goode to apologize for the letter.

"Representative Goode's Islamophobic remarks send a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office," said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. "There can be no reasonable defense for such bigotry."

Goode spokesman Linwood Duncan said no apology was forthcoming.

"The only statement the congressman has is that he stands by the letter," Duncan said.

Goode was once a Democrat, became an independent, and then became a Republican as his Southside Virginia district shifted over time, reports CBS Evening news producer Laura Strickler.

Goode was also involved with MZM, the defense contractor that brought down ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham with bribes. Goode received more money from MZM employees and the former CEO of MZM, Mitchell Wade, than any other member of Congress. He donated the money to various local Virginia charities after current and former MZM employees complained they were coerced into giving the donations, Strickler says.