Reacting to the Obama Administration’s decision to halt deportations to Haiti and extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to undocumented Haitians living in the U.S., anti-immigration zealot Rep. Steve King (R-IA) instead used the Haitian earthquake as a pretext to advance his extremist beliefs.
In a candid admission of his view that any immigrant is a bad immigrant, King told ABC News that “Illegal immigrants from Haiti have no reason to fear deportation but if they are deported, Haiti is in great need of relief workers and many of them could be a big help to their fellow Haitians.” He also questioned the merits and motives of those advocating TPS for Haitians, saying, “This sounds to me like open borders advocates exercising the Rahm Emanuel axiom: ‘Never let a crisis go to waste.’”
“Steve King’s comments speak for themselves and are an unfortunate reminder of his worldview,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “In one fell swoop, he manages to be callous to incalculable human suffering, ignorant of substantive public policy, and indifferent to America’s cherished ideals.”
Rep. King, who in the past has compared undocumented immigrants to livestock, earned an impassioned rebuke from MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann, who lamented that King is a “man who does not know America’s heart” and cannot contain his “paranoid, racist, anti-immigration hatred.”
Many Republican members of Congress do not share King’s views. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IA), was among several GOP lawmakers who called for TPS for undocumented Haitians in the U.S., noting, “It is in the foreign policy interest of the United States and a humanitarian imperative of the highest order to have all people of Haitian descent in a position to contribute towards the recovery of this island nation.” Similarly, Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), called TPS “a virtual lifeline for such an impoverished country.” As Think Progress notes, even some of King’s fellow anti-immigration crusaders have distanced themselves from him on this issue. Center for Immigration Studies head Mark Krikorian claimed that TPS “was invented precisely for cases like Haiti today.”
“It is impossible to reconcile King’s statements with the American traditions and beliefs that he is sworn to uphold,” said Sharry. “We join with many of King’s colleagues and constituents in applauding the decision to extend TPS to Haitians and keeping our focus on how we can be of most assistance to the thousands of families in need.”