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Absent Alternative Approaches, Steve King & Joe Arpaio Define GOP for Latino Voters

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King’s English-Only Hearing, Arpaio’s Racial Profiling Trial Show Ugly Face of Republican Party
Not Much Distance at all Between them and Romney

Washington, DC – Given his long-standing history of buffoonery and anti-immigrant agitating, it should come as no surprise that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) presided over an embarrassing and offensive hearing yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Yesterday’s House Constitution Subcommittee hearing on King’s English Language Unity Act—a bill to mandate “English-only” government documents and services—featured two members of John Tanton-founded organizations: U.S. English and ProEnglish as witnesses, as well as the usual array of jaw-dropping statements and assertions from King.

Also in the media spotlight this week was the civil rights trial of notorious anti-Latino Sheriff Joe Arpaio, which saw witness after witness describing the anti-Latino profiling committed by Arpaio and his henchmen.  Let it not be forgotten that the Republican presidential primary contenders kissed Arpaio’s ring and tried to compete for his endorsement this cycle (one that Mitt Romney himself received in 2008).

While King and Arpaio’s behavior is unfortunately unsurprising, their prominence in driving the Republican Party’s immigration agenda is puzzling:

1.    Steve King & Joe Arpaio are the Face of the Republican Party on Immigration:  In absence of a different immigration approach from the adults in the Republican Party, King’s agenda remains the only game in town.  In conjunction with the Republican candidates’ pursuit of Arpaio’s endorsement, this helps to reinforce the Republican Party’s brand image as unwelcoming to Latinos and immigrants – a sensibility that comes through loud and clear in a spate of recent polling.  As a result, it’s little wonder that 73% of Latino voters in a recent Latino Decisions five state battleground poll think the Republican Party is hostile or doesn’t care too much about Hispanics versus only 15% who think Republicans are doing a good job reaching out to Hispanics in this country.

2.    King, Arpaio, & Romney: Birds of a Feather on Immigration Policy, if Not on Tone:  Despite obvious differences in rhetoric, Steve King and Mitt Romney have adopted very similar policy positions on immigration.  Like King, Romney expressed opposition to President Obama’s decision to protect DREAM-eligible young people from deportation, opposes the DREAM Act, and has advocated “self-deportation.”  Additionally, Romney has called Arizona’s immigration laws a “model” for the nation and not only pursued Sheriff Arpaio’s endorsement this cycle, but actually received an Arpaio endorsement in his 2008 failed presidential campaign.  In large part because of these hardline positions, Romney is trailing President Obama among Latino voters by the overwhelming margin of 22%-70% in the most recent Latino Decisions nationwide poll, including by a 21%-71% margin among Latino voters in 13 battleground states.

In case you needed further evidence of the ridiculousness of Steve King: U.S. News and World Report helped preview yesterday’s English-only hearing, noting “Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, a man who defends dog fighting, still wonders whether Obama’s birth announcement might have been telegraphed from Kenya, and is suing the Obama Administration for allowing undocumented youth to stay in the country to attend college, has found another soap box to stand on.”  After the hearing, King made some of his typical offensive and over-the-top assertions, telling Huffington Post, “The argument that diversity is our strength has really never been backed up by logic.”  King also came out strongly in favor of, well, English-only ATMs, noting, “that if he knew of an ATM that didn’t make him choose which language he wanted to use, ‘I’m likely to stop there first. That’s just me.’”

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “Why on earth do Republican leaders continue to give Rep. Steve King a microphone, and seek out the endorsement of avowed immigrant-basher Joe Arpaio?  King has compared immigrants to livestock and dogs, while Arpaio terrorizes Latino communities and then brags about it.  Every time King or Arpaio open their mouths, they only reinforce their Party’s image as intolerant and anti-immigrant.  By embracing the same policies, Romney is doing no better.  His anti-immigrant positions and associations with the ugly face of the GOP could put a number of Latino-heavy swing states out of reach.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.