Steve King taking leading role in fight against immigration reform (updated)

This week a “gang of eight” U.S. senators (four from each party) released an immigration reform bill. Jordan Fabian of ABC News published a good overview of the proposal, while Ted Hesson explained how the bill addresses seven of the “most-asked” questions about immigration reform.

Representative Steve King has long opposed creating any path to legal residence or citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Among U.S. House Republicans, he has been the loudest voice pushing back against the “gang of eight.” In the process, King reminded everyone why the GOP establishment will be so relieved when he finally acknowledges that he’s not running for U.S. Senate next year.

UPDATE: Added an official statement from King below.

Many national blogs and news organizations picked up on King’s rush to blame foreigners for the Boston Marathon bombings. King told the National Review’s Robert Costa,

“Some of the speculation that has come out is that yes, it was a foreign national and, speculating here, that it was potentially a person on a student visa,” King says. “If that’s the case, then we need to take a look at the big picture.” […]

“We need to be ever vigilant,” he says. “We need to go far deeper into our border crossings… . We need to take a look at the visa-waiver program and wonder what we’re doing. If we can’t background-check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we are going to background check the 11 to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?”

Such comments may play well in IA-04, but King’s knee-jerk reaction makes him look like a hothead “cloaking his cowardice in principle.”

The Sioux City Journal’s Bret Hayworth was more restrained on his Politically Speaking blog.

King’s view, which used variations on the word speculation twice, seems misplaced. While there are lots of theories about the bombing that killed three people near the marathon finish, by Tuesday afternoon a Pentagon official said there is no indication of al Qaeda or any foreign connection in the incident.

The main “foreign connections” I’ve heard about are these: one of the people killed in Boston was a Chinese graduate student, and many of the medical staff who cared for the injured were immigrants (such as these surgeons who briefed the media on Tuesday).

Before the Boston Marathon on Monday, Costa wrote about a “gang of six” House Republicans plotting a “revolt” against immigration reform. King was front and center.

Last week, The Hill’s Molly K. Hooper published a piece about conservative House Republicans “fretting” that leaders may move an immigration bill not supported by most of the GOP caucus. King was the first “tea party lawmaker” she quoted:

Longtime immigration reform critic Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was alarmed when saw the bullet point “immigration” on the agenda for Wednesday’s [April 10] GOP conference meeting.

“Up on our agenda came immigration … [leadership is] going to bring immigration, according to the agenda, sometime to the floor. How do we know we’re going to do immigration when we haven’t talked about it yet? How come don’t I know this, because I’m on the [Judiciary] committee? How come all these meetings on immigration are going on and I’m not being invited to them?” said King, a possible Senate candidate in 2014.

Gee, how come no one invited King to the meetings? When you show repeatedly that your mind is closed on an issue, no one’s going to ask you to participate in a good-faith effort to find a way forward. King opposed granting temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants from Haiti after an earthquake devastated that country a few years ago. He has demagogued against “anchor babies” in his quest to end birthright citizenship. That’s a big reason King got passed over to chair the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration right after Republicans regained the House majority.

I didn’t see any press release from King’s office about the “gang of eight” bill, but King posted two comments via twitter yesterday.

#Gof8Fact: Gang of 8 bill rewards those deported & here illegally with the objective of their crime #amnesty #immigration #slaponthehand

#Gof8Fact ICE was shut/Obama WH was invited to private meetings on Gang of 8 bill #secretmeetings #immigration http://tinyurl.com/d938ksu

That shortened link takes you to this piece on Andrew Brietbart’s blog, titled “White House Sits in on ‘Gang of Eight’: Law Enforcement Excluded.”

UPDATE: King’s Congressional office released this statement on April 18:

“The Gang of Eight’s bill is aggressive and outrageous amnesty,” said King. “It is instant legalization of all illegal immigrants in the United States, with very few exceptions. It contains only promises: the promise of a plan for border security, of a backup plan for the border security, and of workplace enforcement in the form of making E-Verify mandatory. What makes anyone think President Obama would enforce any future immigration laws when he has violated his own oath of office to take care that the laws be ‘faithfully executed’?

I expected this from Democrats who have long understood their brand of more taxes, more borrowing, and more government giveaways, and know how to sell it. It is the Republicans who should know better. Republicans who support this bill have effectively said to Americans, ‘we are prepared to sacrifice the Rule of Law on the altar of misguided and erroneous political expediency’.”

I am pessimistic that the House will approve an immigration reform proposal containing any path to legal residency or citizenship, but if Speaker John Boehner ignores the “Hastert rule,” a bill could pass with a small number of Republicans joining most House Democrats.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- For anyone still hoping Bruce Braley will get the chance to run against King, the first quarter campaign finance report of King for Congress will be a good reality check.

SECOND UPDATE: The Huffington Post’s Jon Ward wrote on twitter today,

Just chatted w Steve King. He said they don’t currently have enough votes to stop an immigration bill in the House.

King’s best hope is to keep a bill from coming up on the House floor. In the days when the “Hastert rule” was operative, that would not have been a problem.  

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