In an op-ed in this morning’s Des Moines Register, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) makes a compelling case for why his approach to immigration policy should be abandoned by the GOP. Entitled “Create Jobs for Americans by Curbing Illegal Immigration,” Rep. King rehashes the same old “head in the sand” arguments against comprehensive immigration reform that is driving the Republican Party into the political wilderness.
In his article, King praises the immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, calling it-incredibly–a “step in the right direction.” This despite the fact that the town is in a shambles seven months after the May 2008 raid. Yesterday, local pastors held yet another press conference pleading for assistance for their devastated community, and asking why Postville was made to be a “whipping boy” for the broken immigration system. In his piece King also shows he is hip to the trends, trying to remake himself as a guardian of the American worker in this economic downturn. This despite the fact that he boasts just a 10% voting record from the AFL-CIO and has consistently opposed pro-worker policies like an increase in the minimum wage.
What Rep. King doesn’t explain is that requiring undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows, undergo background checks, pay their taxes, and get right with the law is a much better approach to shoring up our tax rolls and leveling the playing field for all workers than mass deportation, and the American people agree. Sixty-two percent of voters nationwide-and 66% in swing Congressional districts–say “We would be better off if people who are in the United States illegally became legal taxpayers so they pay their fair share,” vs. 21% who said “We would be better off if people who are in the United States illegally left the country because they are taking away jobs that Americans need.” (See Immigration 08: National Survey and Swing District Polling on Immigration.)
Many in Republican circles have already recognized the need to distance themselves from King and his anti-immigration politics. Former McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said in an interview yesterday that for the Republican Party to win in the future, the GOP has “to change its attitude” toward Latinos. Given the tone of the immigration debate, he said, “I don’t blame Hispanics for not voting for us.” Similarly, in Newsweek, Karl Rove said that in order for the GOP to stay afloat, Republicans must support policy that “strengthens citizenship, grows our economy and keeps America a welcoming nation.” For more quotes on immigration reform, the Republican Party, and the Latino vote click here.
“Some things never change, and Representative King’s senseless approach to immigration ‘reform’ is one of them,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “At at time when his own Party is re-thinking its anti-immigrant, obstructionist stance, Rep. King has his head in the sand. Americans are tired of tough talk; they want action. They want Congress and the President to fix the broken immigration system and restore the rule of law. This means legalizing the undocumented immigrant population and making sure everyone-both workers and employers-are paying their fare share of taxes.”
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.