Update (below): Idaho Republican shames the media for reporting on King’s comments
Second update (below): White House spokesperson calls King’s comments ‘unfortunate’
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) appears to be sticking to his allegation that most young immigrants who fall under the terms of the DREAM Act are secretly drug mules instead of hard-working youths brought to the U.S. as children by their undocumented parents.
King’s initial comments were published last week by the conservative blog Newsmax, drawing a sharp response from Republican leadership currently engaged in trying to woo Latino voters.
“Some of them are valedictorians — and their parents brought them in,” King told Newsmax. “It wasn’t their fault. It’s true in some cases, but they aren’t all valedictorians. They weren’t all brought in by their parents. For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
The notoriously anti-immigrant congressman was asked to explain his remarks on an Iowa radio show Tuesday night, telling Radio Iowa host O. Kay Henderson: “I don’t disagree that there are DREAMers that are valedictorians, but [immigration reform] also would legalize those that are smuggling drugs into the United States.”
King added that his description of thick-calved immigrant drug mules was taken directly from his own experiences with members of the U.S. Border Patrol. “It’s not something that I’m making up,” he insisted. “This is real.”
King continued: “We have people that are mules, that are drug mules, that are hauling drugs across the border and you can tell by their physical characteristics what they’ve been doing for months, going through the desert with 75 pounds of drugs on their back and if those who advocate for the DREAM Act, if they choose to characterize this about valedictorians, I gave them a different image that we need to be thinking about because we just simply can’t be passing legislation looking only at one component of what would be millions of people.”
Unfortunately for King, it’s not the first time the Iowa Republican got his party in hot water with Latinos. Just earlier this week King found himself on the hot seat in front of a reporter for the Spanish-language network Univision, who asked why he compared immigrants to dogs during a town hall meeting last May.
King denied that he ever said such a thing, then said it was supposed to be a compliment, before urging the reporter to watch the video of his speech. “Look at the original source,” he insisted. “That didn’t happen.”
“People write things on the Internet all the time,” King continued. “But did you watch the video, the full video? That speech was about celebrating legal immigration.”
Update: Idaho Republican shames the media for reporting on King’s comments
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hilll, Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) condemned King’s comments and shamed the press for reporting on them, according to quotes published by Talking Points Memo.
“All you guys can do is fan the flames of one person making a reprehensible and irresponsible comment,” Labrador said. “So I think, shame on you. Shame on the media for only concentrating on that aspect of it. … I get tired of journalism where all you try to tell us is what one person does or says.”
Second update: White House spokesperson calls King’s comments ‘unfortunate’
White House spokesperson Jay Carney told The Associated Press on Wednesday that King’s comments about undocumented immigrants were “unfortunate,” and suggested that he’s not doing much to help his party with Latinos.
Carney’s remarks followed senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who wrote on Twitter: “Every member of the GOP should condemn Rep King for comparing the Dreamers to drug mules, they represent what is great about this country.”