Much of the political media will be focused today on Anthony Weiner’s latest sex-chat scandal, but the former New York congressman’s congenital inability to keep his pants on is far from the most offensive event in American politics recently. No, that dishonor goes to a repeat “winner,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). In an interview with the conservative website Newsmax, the anti-immigration crusader was asked about “amnesty” and the DREAM Act, which would give undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children a path to permanent residency. The Iowa congressman had this to say about “DREAMers”:
Some of them are valedictorians — and their parents brought them in. 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 every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.
Of course, King has absolutely no proof for this disgusting, prejudiced statement. (Then again, one wonders what constitutes proof for a congressman who thinks snow disproves global warming.) As the Immigration Policy Center points out, using data from the census, the Pew Hispanic Center and the FBI, crime rates have fallen in the United States as the immigrant population (legal and illegal) has increased.
King has a long record of racially tinged quotes. Such a record, one would hope, would at some point draw strong rebukes from King’s fellow Republicans — at least because of the potential damage to the party’s already-declining standing with the country’s Hispanic population. Yet no GOP leader has yet disavowed his intolerant views. For now, despite some prominent talking heads softening their attitudes on immigration, anti-immigrant bias remains strong in the Republican Party, blocking any chance of reform making it through Congress. But America is changing, and if Republicans want to stay relevant, they’ll have to kick prejudices like King’s out of the party.