By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR
Of course Representative Steve King (R–Iowa) doubled down on the anti-DREAMer remarks he made in a radio interview last week. This is to be expected when an unreconstructed bigot who craves attention just happens to be a member of Congress. And, of course, his belief that “there are 100 Mexican immigrants, with calves the size of cantaloupes, smuggling drugs for every DREAMer valedictorian” is wildly offensive, derogatory, and hateful. This is the same man who believes he can spot an undocumented immigrant by his or her shoes.
An equally important problem, though, with these remarks is not just that they are asinine and wrong, but that he completely made them up. This man—who hundreds of media outlets have quoted or hosted as an “immigration expert”—simply has no idea what he’s talking about. It’s the equivalent of having someone who contends that the sun revolves around the earth on a show discussing the future of NASA’s space program. Our beef has always been more with the media who continue to use King in “debates” about immigration.
But the silver lining of this latest verbal face-plant by King is the quick condemnations from his fellow members of Congress. It is not too surprising that Speaker John Boehner (R–Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R–Va.) have condemned the remarks, but so has Immigration Subcommittee Chair Trey Gowdy (R–S.C.), long considered an immigration hard-liner. Given the untold damage that Steve King has done to the political fortunes of his party vis-a-vis Latino voters, it may be finally dawning on House Republicans that King should probably not be the face of the Party on this issue in the media or, even more alarmingly, the go-to leader in the House when it comes to immigration policy-making. Let’s hope so.
It’s about damn time.
We welcome the broad condemnations of King by his colleagues, but still, the most effective and long-lasting way to counter his vitriol is for the House to act on comprehensive immigration reform.