Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the Republican Party’s loudest voice on immigration, has made yet more incendiary comments about immigrants. Yesterday, according to Politico, Rep. King compared immigrants to bank robbers, and said that the prospect of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would be were worse than amnesty for bank robbers:
And it isn’t just as if amnesty for someone whom, say, might go in and rob a bank, because granting them amnesty would be when they get out on the street with the loot, you would say to them, ‘I’m going to give you amnesty, now you’re not going to be able to rob the bank anymore…But this is giving them the loot, too. You get to rob the bank and keep the money. That’s what amnesty really is, it’s pardon them for the crime and reward them with the objective of it. And it breaks down our culture and our civilization.
King also dismissed the concerns of religious leaders who support immigration reform, accusing them of not understanding scripture:
We might lose that debate in this country because of the sympathy factor, and it’s also added to by a lot of Christian groups who misread the scripture, and I’m happy to take on that debate with any one of those folks.
If Rep. King is really willing to debate anyone on immigration, he will have that opportunity later today. Democratic Representatives Joe Garcia (D-FL) and Jared Polis (D-CO) have invited leading GOP anti-immigrant leaders, including Steve King, to participate in a conversation on the House floor about immigration during special orders. A copy of the letter inviting Rep. King and his colleagues to debate immigration can be viewed at Huffington Post.
Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
House Republican leaders and Party strategists should break out in a cold sweat at the prospect of Steve King taking up the new offer to debate immigration in such a public forum. But by default they’ve made him the face and voice of the Party on immigration. After all, he’s the only person to receive a floor vote on immigration in 2013. When Steve King offered his amendment to defund DACA and subject DREAMers to deportation, all but a handful of Republicans supported it. The only thing that can change this simple fact is if the House Republican leadership comes up with a new strategy and allows votes on reform that includes legalization and a path to citizenship. Until then, Steve King is still King of the House.
Inaction by the House Republican leadership on immigration reform and concessions to the Steve King ‘hell no’ caucus has turned a tarnished GOP brand into a damaged one. If the House leadership doesn’t chart a new course and allow votes on all aspects of immigration reform, the damage will become permanent. We’ll tune in today to see if King shows up to debate Reps. Garcia and Polis. If he does, the cost of inaction and concessions to the nativist right will no doubt be on full display.