A year ago this week, nearly four hundred men and women were corralled into the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa, in an immigration raid that has come to be known as one of the least-just immigration operations in U.S. history.
In fact, since the raid happened on May 12th, 2008, religious leaders and elected officials across the nation have come out strongly in condemnation of the abuses that took place in Postville, Iowa. Not Congressman Steve King, however.
In a December 2008 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, King praised the immigration raid in Postville, calling it a "step in the right direction."
Then, in a February 2009 interview with Radio Iowa, King said that the raid "was a good thing in the long run." From that interview:
King is the top-ranking Republican on a House subcommittee on immigration, and King says he will keep pressing for action to reduce the number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. "I do have to carry that banner and I do so willingly..."
King’s perspective on the Postville raid, and his likening immigrants to cattle, are just two examples of a Congressional leader out of step with mainstream America and in step with the most disturbing arm of the extreme anti-immigrant movement. The Congressman’s record is the focus of our latest report: "Rep. Steve King (R-IA): Carrying the Banner for Anti-Immigrant Extremists."
The report details ways in which Rep. King’s bogus claims about immigrants have served as talking points for the extreme anti-immigrant movement for years. It shows that King is not only beloved by the extremist anti-immigrant groups, but he is also a regular speaker at their events-- even FAIR, which was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In the report, we show how, from the House floor, King released now-debunked information about immigrants that has widely accepted and regurgitated on anti-immigrant websites.
The Anti-Defamation League reported on King’s use of "anti-immigrant rhetoric," which extends to comparing undocumented immigration to both a "slow motion Holocaust" and a "...slow-motion terrorist attack..."
According to an April 3, 2009 article in Politico, Rep. King dismissed the seriousness of sworn testimony detailing racial profiling by Latino witnesses at a Judiciary Committee hearing.
On April 30, 2009, Rep. King called the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus "separatist groups" in a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
In March of 2008, during an interview with an Iowa radio station, Rep. King opined on Barack Obama’s middle name, which he believed would have terrorists "dancing in the streets..."
"We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time." - Rep. Steve King, on ideal border fences, immigrants, and livestock.
Congressman King’s perspective on immigration and race is far from mainstream. It is, rather, the kind of position embraced by some of the most extreme political forces in America.
Here’s a parting message to Rep. King and other Members of Congress who abuse the immigration issue for political gain:
With a whopping sixty-one percent of Americans now favoring a "pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants," it is time for leaders from both parties to rise above the vitriol and division which has blocked comprehensive immigration reform for years and work together on real, practical, and humane solutions to fixing our broken immigration system.
And no, the mass deportation of 12 million people or the railroading of immigrant workers through "assembly-line trials" is no longer an option.
UPDATE: Watch the video of Rep. Steve King's ideal border fence: