Rep. Steve King: ‘Ronald Reagan’s signature on the 86 Amnesty Act brought about Barack Obama’s election’

By Megan Carpentier
Friday, May 24, 2013 16:30 EDT
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Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a firm opponent of immigration reform, took to the floor of the House on Thursday to explain his theory that giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship in 1986 had directly led to Barack Obama’s election in 2012 — and thus why Republicans are foolish to support any sort of immigration reform.

“What they have forgotten is that tens of millions of dollars and very much organizational effort has been put into it by Democrats to call Republicans racist,” he began as a way to illustrate that there would be no way to make inroads with American Latinos by passing immigration reform. “My colleagues on my side of the aisle they seem to just disregard that all that money spent that all of those dishonesties perpetrated, they think that if it exists at all it didn’t have any effect, it all was just those two words that Mitt Romney said: ‘Self deport,’” he added.

He suggested instead that Republicans learn from their own history: “It’s also true that Ronald Regard signing the Amnesty Act in 1986 didn’t get George H.W. Bush, 41, a higher percentage of the Hispanic vote, it got him a lower percentage of the Hispanic vote.”

Instead, he said, the real effect of the 1986 amnesty was the current president’s election, which he demonstrated using some fuzzy math.

There were about 800,000 people that were originally to qualify for the amnesty in 1986 that Ronald Reagan signed. That number crept up to about a million. That’s kind of the subtle historical number of about a million that were here that fit the qualifications to receive amnesty from the ’86 Act that Reagan was honest enough to call the Amnesty Act. And then once he signed that bill, then there was document fraud, and people that came across the border, the magnet of amnesty drew more people in and that number now, the lowest number that I see, of those who received amnesty in ’86 or from the ’86 Amnesty Act is about 2.7 million people. A lot of times you see 3 million as the quote, it’ll even go up to three and a half. Well, let’s just settle on 3 million people. If 3 million people received amnesty under Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Amnesty Act and, on average, each of them — and this is data that can be chased down, and bigger numbers than I’m about to quote are available out there on certain studies — but on average, a low number for family members brought in because of those that received amnesty is a factor of five or a little bit more. So let’s just hold it down on the low end. Three million received amnesty, the average bringing in 5 people by the family reunification plans that are there. Now that’s 15 million people. Some of ‘em have died, some of them perhaps have gone back to their home country, but there are a large bloc of voters there that have shifted over to vote for… who, Mr. Speaker? Barack Obama. Barack Obama.

King went out to lambaste members of his own party who were calling for immigration reform. “I’ll make this statement: if the theory of those who believe that they can reverse the trend of Hispanic vote, if their theory is correct, than I would suggest to them that without, if they can provide amnesty and somebody’s going to benefit from that, if their theory is correct they have to admit that Ronald Reagan’s signature on the ’86 Amnesty Act brought about Barack Obama’s election. If you take those numbers of people out of the polls and you calculate that percentage of 71 percent… So, let’s just say we take 15 million people out of the rolls, and say, well, they wouldn’t have been here without the 86 Amnesty Act or at least they wouldn’t be voting, and if 71 percent of them voted for Barack Obama, then it’s clear to anybody that can do any kind of statistical analysis that Barack Obama wouldn’t be President of the United States without Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Amnesty Act.”

While there was, indeed, only a 5 million vote margin separating Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, nationally, Latinos actually make up only 10 percent of the overall electorate — and Latino voters identified the economy as the most important issue in the last election.

Watch the whole video of King’s speech, courtesy of CBS News, below:

Megan Carpentier
Megan Carpentier is the executive editor of Raw Story. She previously served as an associate editor at Talking Points Memo; the editor of news and politics at Air America; an editor at Jezebel.com; and an associate editor at Wonkette. Her published works include pieces for the Washington Post, the Washington Independent, Ms Magazine, RH Reality Check, the Women's Media Center, On the Issues, the New York Press, Bitch and Women's eNews.
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