Why Do Rand Paul and House Republicans Let this Guy Define the GOP?
The video of yesterday’s confrontation between prominent Dreamer Erika Andiola and prominent nativist Rep. Steve King (R-IA) – featuring a cameo, and hilarious escape, by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) – is generating plenty of attention and reaction.
The proceedings beg the question for Rand Paul: if Steve King is so toxic, as the Senator’s Usain Bolt impression demonstrates, then why is he kissing his brass ring in the first place?
Among several key impressions and takeaways from the video and its aftermath:
- America becoming a third world country? Following the back-and-forth, Rep. King told reporters, “They’re here demanding that we change the laws…Why would you want to bring lawlessness to the United States of America? And that’s the question they cannot answer. Why would we want to turn America into a third world country?” This, after meeting and talking with two DACA recipients who clearly love this country and want to give back. Erika Andiola came to the U.S. at age 11 with her mother after fleeing a domestic abuse situation and has a master’s degree, and Cesar Vargas came to the U.S. at age 5, graduated law school, and hopes to give back to his country through military service. King said “I don’t want to build a country with people who don’t have respect for the laws,” as if Erika and Cesar represented dangerous criminals rather than DACAmented leaders.
- King’s mix of anger, bullying and condescension to Andiola, punctuated by the manner that he grabs her wrist as he emphasizes a point (56 seconds into the video) and asks her if she understands English, is chilling. In response to Andiola’s explanation that her mother fled domestic abuse, King says, “I’m really sorry that you come from a lawless country…I hope that you can have a happy life. But please, do not erode the rule of law in America.”
- After Cesar Vargas shared his dream of joining the U.S. military and referenced the story of the story of Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez – one of the first U.S. service-members to die in the Iraq war – King said, “he lied to get into the military.” In fact, Lance Cpl. Gutierrez came to the U.S. undocumented but was granted asylum and then posthumous citizenship. To King, any former undocumented immigrant must be a liar, just like any DREAMers must be a drug-runner, no matter how much they love and sacrifice for this country.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Rand Paul and the Republican Party can run, but they can’t hide. Steve King is the face of the GOP’s hardline immigration stance. He is the driving force behind the only votes on immigration permitted by House Republican leadership in this Congress. He is determined to end DACA and subject Dreamers to deportation. He is threatening impeachment if the President uses his authority to set priorities for DHS. He has called for electrifying the border. He compared Dreamers to drug mules with calves the size of cantaloupes. And he just insulted leading Dreamers and denigrated an American serviceman who gave his life for this country. Steve King can – and will – continue to speak for himself. The question is why Rand Paul and other Republicans are letting him speak for them, too?