Representative Steve King (R – IA4) is no stranger to nationwide controversy over his comments towards immigration. Having compared immigrants as unwanted dogs sleeping in the corner, he has emerged as the far right’s spokesperson for immigration reform talks in Congress.
In an odd attempt to possibly increase the Republican Party’s outreach towards Latino Americans, King appeared on the popular Univisíon program Al Punto last Friday, hosted by the Walter Cronkite-like Jorge Ramos. Ramos quickly asked King about his comments made in 2012 comparing immigrants to dogs, King attempted to cover his tracks, claiming, “I said that speech was about the vigor of legal immigration. It was a very complimentary speech and no I did not do that.” Ramos quickly came back at King, stating that, “I don’t think many people found that complementary. You know it is not complimentary to compare a group of immigrants to animals.” King blamed his “mischaracterization” on the left who, according to him, “ they’re [left wing blogs] trying to divide us, instead of letting us be unified people of this country”. King also went on to claim that he didn’t feel the responsibility of solving the problem of immigrants already in the U.S. without documents, because they broke the “rule of law”. He also professed that undocumented immigrants and the Obama administrating are perpetuating a welfare state and keeping jobless American citizens out of the workforce.
Ramos brought up the amendment that King created to end the Deferred Action for Child Arrivers (DACA) program created by President Obama to end the deportation for undocumented young people who came to the United States as children. King replied that Presidents since 1986 have not followed the immigration laws, and claimed his opposition to DACA came from his love for the rule of law, which is greater than his sympathy in his heart to the plight of undocumented young people.
The subject of the 14th Amendment was also discussed due to King’s desire to not “reward the babies of illegal immigrants with American citizenship”. Ramos asked if he was against the 14th Amendment then, but King answered that he “supported the 14th Amendment and the language and the historical context” of it, but then went on to claim views that directly go against the actual amendment, saying that no other country in the world allows for children of foreign parents born in the US to be citizens.
King didn’t wait long to start another firestorm of controversy. Today, when speaking on the topic of the DREAM Act, which would help undocumented young people who came to the United States as children receive aid to further their education or serve in the military, King quipped, “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Ignoring the actual hilarity of King’s idea of young people without documents, quotes like these just add fuel to the fire of immigration reform activists. Ramos came back to the quote, saying that, “There’s no question that the GOP has a huge immigrant problem. If it were only one Republican making comments like that, you could have argued it’s an isolated incident. But when you add that comment to others made by Joe Arpaio, Pete Wilson, Jan Brewer, then it becomes a huge problem for the party as a whole. There’s a perception that the party is not interested in getting the Hispanic vote and does not understand Latinos.”
With the increasing support for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, King’s comments will only add to the national desire and push to replace him in Congress and to finally end his role as a discriminatory far-right spokesperson.
Click here to see the Ramos interview in English.