Today, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) visited Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) district to hold a pro-immigration forum in the wake of King’s ugly comments equating DREAMers with drug runners who have “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling seventy-five pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
According to Senator Harkin (D-IA), who hosted the forum, hateful, ugly rhetoric about immigrants is out of sync with where Iowans stand:
We Iowans, we Iowans are a welcoming people. We are a compassionate and caring people. We do not believe in characterizing people with hateful, spiteful, degrading language. We believe that every human being has worth, and we believe those who want to come here to work to build a better life are not criminals. They are people who want to build a better life for themselves and their families, and we ought to be finding a way to help them do that here in America, and here in the state of Iowa.
Reacting to the King comments that prompted his visit to Iowa, Senator Durbin (D-IL) said:
The suggestion that these are petty criminals or drug smugglers, it just doesn’t square with the reality of the DREAM Act, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here today.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
The contrast could not be clearer. This was Steve King’s home turf, and the anti-immigrant protesters were dwarfed by the pro-immigration supporters. The other side may have their small and vocal contingent of anti-immigrant diehards, but they simply don’t have the backing of the public or the breadth of support like the movement in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. Ironically for him, when Steve King pollutes the debate with his obnoxious rhetoric and noxious policies, it only serves to galvanize immigration reform supporters and bring new allies on to our side.
The event, which featured DREAMers, faith, Latino, labor, business and other leaders, not only displayed the breadth and power of the immigration movement but also showed the growing support for immigration reform in a traditionally conservative district. As hundreds gathered inside to engage in a positive and constructive discussion about broad immigration reform, eleven anti-immigrant protesters stood outside to support Steve King and his extremist stances.
King’s comments and policies have been criticized by some of the most conservative Iowans. This week, the Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City, Walker Nickless, said “I am disappointed by Rep. King’s remarks, which speak of migrants in a way that undermines their human dignity and the respect owed them as children of God,” and “I support common sense reform that provides a reasonable path to citizenship for the undocumented and promotes family unity.”
This disparity in pro and anti-forces is only confirmed by a recent poll in King’s congressional district. The poll released last week by the American Action Network in King’s backyard highlights just how out of step King is with his own constituents. It noted that “68 percent of voters in Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District supports an ‘earned pathway to legal status,’ while 65 percent support an ‘earned pathway to citizenship.’ Of the Republican voters in King’s district, 70 percent back a path to legal status, while 51 percent back a pathway to citizenship.”
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Watch video of the event: