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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

 

“King of the House”: One Year Since Passing Amendment to Deport DREAMers, Steve King Still in Charge of Immigration in House

America’s Voice Releases Timeline of King’s Most Memorable “Milestones” on Immigration

On today’s Office Hours press call, labor leaders, immigration advocates and a DREAMer from Steve King’s district in Iowa marked the one-year anniversary of the first vote on a Steve King amendment to deport DREAMers.  America’s Voice released a retrospective of King’s “greatest hits” (or “biggest blunders” depending on perspective) that define the reign of Steve King and his imprint in the U.S. House.  Some highlights include King’s 2006 remarks describing unauthorized immigration as a “slow motion holocaust”; his comments in 2009 calling the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus “separatist groups”; his 2012 comparison of immigrants to dogs and then claiming it was a compliment; and of course, his comments from just last month saying that DREAMers who want to enlist in the military should instead be offered a “bus to Tijuana.”

According to Eduardo Rodriguez, DREAMer from Steve King’s district:

What’s frustrating to me is that King consistently calls me, my mother, father, brothers and sisters criminals, but when he talks to me individually, he’s kind and tells me he wants to be my friend.  In Congress, I see that he’s continually blocking reform, stopping movement and just being incredibly difficult to deal with.  I once asked him: ‘Mr. King, you continue to block any progress on reform, and you don’t want me here. What do you want me to do?  Should I leave?  Do you want me to leave?’  And he didn’t have an answer for me.  King’s going to have to realize that his district is changing—the whole state of Iowa is changing.  There’s a growing population of immigrant families coming to northeast Iowa and there’s a growing population that’s hungry for immigration reform.  Steve King is out of touch with his own constituents.

Groups like United Farm Workers have done a lot of work over the past year to highlight the extremism of King.  Last August, when Steve King referred to DREAMers as muscled-up drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes,” DREAMers, farm workers, and advocates delivered immigrant picked cantaloupes to the more than 200 House Members that voted with Steve King on his June 6, 2013 amendment. This week, United Farm Workers working with Alliance for Citizenship targeted over 20 House Republicans at their district offices with rallies and civil disobedience actions across the country.

“It’s been nearly a year since the US Senate passed its bipartisan immigration bill, and during that time, House Republicans have used nearly every excuse in the book as to why they can’t finish the job and pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship,” said Arturo Rodriguez, President of United Farm Workers.  “Meanwhile, anti-immigrant measures have received plenty of time in the spotlight thanks to House Leadership.  We’ve waited long enough for meaningful action to fix our broken immigration system, and we will not wait any longer. Republicans need to either pass immigration reform before the legislative window closes or continue blocking legislation and confirm our worst fears that House Republicans are dominated by hateful extremists who believe that new Americans are somehow less important as human beings.  It’s up to them.”

This week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson renewed the administration’s DACA program—a program that’s been lauded by reform supporters from across the spectrum (learn more about DACA and how to register at www.dacaRenewal.org).  Some Republicans like House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), however, used the renewal of this successful and popular program to deride the President for violating “his constitutional duty to enforce the law” and for further undermining “Congress’ hard work to reform our immigration laws.”

Hard work?  More like, hardly any work.

As Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, concluded:

This week, which ends on the one year anniversary of House leadership giving Steve King a vote on his measure to deport Dreamers, featured the immigration reform movement continuing to get stronger, and House Republican leadership continuing to block immigration reform.  With Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) running to the right in his primary, and Bob Goodlatte, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, running his mouth about how House Republicans can’t pass immigration reform because of the President, it leaves Steve King running the show in the Republican-controlled House.  If this continues, the GOP will squander an historic opportunity to get right on immigration, with the changing American electorate and with the majority of the American people.  This would lead to the following: 1) President Obama will have no choice but to take executive action to protect low-priority undocumented immigrants; and 2) the immigration reform movement will have no choice but to do what it takes to unseat House Republicans so that, eventually, we have a House of Representatives willing to enact landmark immigration reform.

For recordings and resources from prior Office Hours calls, click here.

RESOURCES:

  • Listen to a recording from today’s call HERE.
  • Read America’s Voice’s Steve King timeline here
  • Learn more about how to register for DACA at www.dacaRenewal.org

343 Days Since Senate Passed its Immigration Bill; 21 Days Left Until Window of Opportunity Closes