It’s not often that GOP Rep. Steve King says anything usefully revelatory on immigration reform. Today, however, he went on to the House floor and, in just over a minute, unmasked the truth about the Republican Party’s position on immigration — a position that House Republican leaders have tried to obscure for months.
King cited Chuck Schumer’s recent claim that the Congressman from Iowa is an “extreme outlier” on the issue. King then helpfullly pointed out that in fact, his position is indistinguishable from the Republican Party position, while deriding the Democratic position as akin to socialism:
In an important sense, King is absolutely right in suggesting that his posture on this issue is perfectly at home in today’s GOP. While most House Republicans don’t share King’s outsized views of immigrants (remember the cantaloupe-calved drug-hauling DREAMers?), for all practical purposes, the position of many Republicans right now is that the only acceptable policy response to the immigration crisis is maximum deportations from the interior.
The 2012 Republican Party platform endorsed self-deportation, as did the 2012 GOP presidential nominee. This year House Republicans rolled out principles that include legal status for the 11 million. That was a significant philosophical step forward. But nothing has moved since 2012 in practical terms. House Republicans have not proposed or voted on any measures that would accomplish any sort of legal status for the 11 million — even though GOP leaders themselves have said the 11 million must be addressed.
Republicans continue to excuse this by claiming they can’t trust the president to enforce the law. A number of Republican Senators recently spelled out clearly in a letter to the president that their unhappiness with Obama’s enforcement is rooted in his de-prioritization of removals of low-level offenders from the interior, which redirected resources to removals from the border, which have gone up. Thus, when these Senators call on Obama to enforce the law, what they really mean is they want him to re-prioritize deportations from the interior, no matter who gets removed. House Republicans passed Steve King’s 2013 measure to block Obama from using prosecutorial discretion to defer the deportation of DREAMers.
House Republicans don’t say openly that they want maximum deportations from the interior. Instead, they like to say they can’t act on reform because his unilateral changes to Obummercare show his contempt for the law, meaning he can’t be trusted on any immigration reform.
Along these lines, it’s particularly significant that Steve King’s moment occurred on the same day that Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, the Walter Cronkite of Latino media, confronted John Boehner at a presser, demanding to know why he’s blocking reform.
You can watch the video of that exchange right here. The Speaker smirked his way through the usual evasions on the issue. He claimed he really wants to act, that the problem is that the president flouted the law on Obamacare, and that there is no way in heck House Republicans will ever accept the Senate bill. But the question is whether House Republicans will ever act on their own proposals, and Boehner is the fellow who decides the answer to that question.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are not even prepared to say whether there will be a vote on the Enlist Act, which would allow DREAMers to gain legal permanent residence by serving in the military — which King compared to handing out candy at a parade. The Enlist Act, right now, represents the absolute outer limit of the GOP makeover, and even that may not get a vote.
It’s quaint to go back to it now, but that RNC autopsy into what went wrong in 2012 pointedly noteed that Republicans must embrace immigration reform, because “If Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.” The autopsy added that if Republicans don’t embrace reform, “our party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”
Over a year after that autopsy, Steve King helpfully reminded us that on this issue, the GOP remains Steve King’s party.