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Anti-Immigrant Zealot Steve King Leads Charge, Defines Face of Republican Party
Washington – The new chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), is wasting no time in putting his stamp on the priorities of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. King and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) form a dynamic “deportation duo” whose preferred approach to immigration reform is to force the mass deportation of 11 million undocumented workers and their family members.
On his first day in the majority, Rep. King declared his intention to lead the Republican Party on an anti-immigrant, anti-Latino crusade. King introduced new legislation that would “eliminate birthright citizenship for children when both parents were illegal immigrants.” King’s efforts coincided with a new push by like-minded state legislators, also announced yesterday. Together, the efforts are a radical attempt to change the intent and application of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, and will have long-term political implications for the GOP.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “History will not look kindly upon a Republican Party that targets children and shreds the Constitution like this. The goal of King and his allies in the states is to create two classes of children—those who have the full rights of citizenship and those who do not. Following the Republican defeat of the DREAM Act last year, this assault on babies and the U.S. Constitution will not be looked at kindly by Latino voters or other reasonable Americans.”
Rep. King’s plan stands in stark contrast to the approach being taken in Utah and Rhode Island that instead looks to integrate immigrants and demand that Congress enact a comprehensive, federal solution. In Utah, State Senator Luz Robles (D) is working with the conservative Sutherland Institute to introduce new legislation that would create a process for undocumented workers to obtain work permits and get more employers and workers onto the tax rolls. In Rhode Island, recognizing the dangers, costs, and unintended consequences of two piecemeal enforcement programs, E-verify and 287(g), newly-inaugurated Governor Lincoln Chafee rescinded his predecessor’s immigration ordinance and called on the federal government to pass real immigration reform.
Meanwhile, a new coalition called Americans for Constitutional Citizenship–comprised of civil rights leaders and constitutional scholars–launched yesterday to take the King approach to defining Americanism head on. Walter Dellinger, former Solicitor General of the United States, reacted to the new legislative proposals by saying, “This matter has been raised in every instance in a racial context. That’s why we wanted a simple rule: Every new girl or boy born in this country is simply, indisputably, an American.” And Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said, “For the first time since the end of the Civil War, these legislators want to pass state laws that would create two tiers of citizens, a modern-day caste system.”
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