Published June 14, 2012
| Fox News Latino
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is known as one of the most fervent proponents of hardline immigration policies.
He is also known for his pointed, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may rhetoric.
King, the vice chairman of the House immigration subcommittee, recently made waves again when he drew parallels between attracting the best from around the world to emigrate here, and picking the best dog of a litter.
His critics said King, a Republican, was again showing what they say are his denigrating views of immigrants.
In an interview with Fox News Latino, King – who is running for re-election against Democrat Christine Vilsack in one of the nation’s most high-profile congressional races this year -- said “the other side” again was distorting his words to demonize him in the eyes of Latinos.
He also spoke about a variety of other topics – including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the DREAM Act and immigration policy in general.
FNL: You drew a lot of criticism recently over a talk you gave where you compared immigrants to dogs in a litter. You say your intention – your point – behind the comparison has been distorted. What did you say and what did you mean by it?
SK: That’s something that’s manufactured by my opponents.
At an event in Pocahantas, Iowa, I said that we have attracted the vigor of the planet of every donor civilization. I’ve long used these examples. We’ve skimmed the cream of the crop off every civilization on the planet. And it wasn’t just the rich or well-educated, it was those that have within them the idea that they could succeed here if they just had liberty.
They had to take a great risk. Personal vigor brought them here and the inspiration of the American Dream attracted them here.
But if you’re second or third generation, we are descended from that.
We’re distinct from people in any other country in the world. We have better, smarter workers. So this little discussion is going on, and this is the backdrop.
In my house, we have raised really good, high-quality Labrador Pointers, we’ve received the pick of the litter from all over the planet. You pick the vigor, the most perky. It was the utilization of the pick of the litter. What is the pick – the alert, the frisky, that’s the one you want.
If someone is insulted by that, I don’t know that they belong in this country.
Jesus talked about animals and compared people to animals. I’m Catholic, my bishop is my shepherd and we are his sheep.
FNL: Why do you think you got the reaction that you did to your statements?
SK: It gets repeated that I made disparaging comments about immigrants, that’s how devious people on the other side are.
Politically, I’m not too worried, but it’s such a rotten thing to do to a society that needs to pull together – victimizing those who have a hard time understanding what’s going on.
There are a lot of Hispanics reading, they need to know that the left are seeking to divide people and capitalize on it.
I’ve been on the immigration subcommittee for 10 years, I’ve been to almost every immigration hearing – I watched them, I understand what they are doing.
They’ve seen the Hispanic community as a monolithic group that could be trained to vote as the African-American monolithic group is trained to vote.
FNL: You say African-Americans are trained to vote as a monolithic group?
SK: I don’t believe there’s a monolithic voting bloc that can be created.
The other side wants to tell people who grew up in Spanish-speaking homes – they believe that because of a language connection they could be trained to vote the same – it’s liberal elitism, that they think they can manipulate people along those lines.
I want them (Hispanics) to embrace American civilization and culture, and be embraced by it.
FNL: You’ve endorsed Gov. Mitt Romney for president, right?
SK: I did, but I’d like to do it in a more full-throated way.
FNL: It is said – and this includes people within the Republican Party itself – that Mitt Romney alienated Hispanic voters with his hard line on immigration. What are your thoughts?
SK: I don’t know that I can draw that conclusion. You can’t write policies that erode the rule of law. I disagreed with [Karl] Rove and [George W.] Bush then on immigration. I think Romney has a pretty solid position on immigration.
Back in 1986, I was disappointed in Ronald Reagan – look where [his amnesty plan] got us – we have more of the same [illegal immigration]. I think Romney understands that.
He’s very astute. I think we can have smart immigration policy that can enhance the economic and social wellbeing of the United States. We simply cannot become the safety valve to absorb people [fleeing] the poverty in the world, we can’t absorb everyone who wants to come here.
How many legal immigrants can we absorb, what kind of diversification can be in that mix?
FNL: What do you think the immigration policy should be?
SK: We have a generous immigration policy. We done OK with a million people a year.
I often hear people need to go to the back of the line. There are 58 million people waiting in line to come to the United States. But if you process 50 million, then there would be another 50 million or 100 million in line again.
We can write a policy that is more based on merit. H-1B visas are one way, E-5 investors visas are another – when we add them all up, some place between seven and 11 percent of the legal immigration that comes to the United States is based on merit, the rest is family reunification, and asylum and visa lottery.
I’d like to see a point system that reward people most likely to contribute to the economy. Other countries, like Australia, Canada, and the U.K., score people according to ages. I’m too old to emigrate to Canada, they don’t want me up there.
FNL: How do you feel about the DREAM Act? Two of your Republican colleagues have more conservative versions of the DREAM Act. Will you support them?
SK: It's pardoning immigration law breakers and rewarding them [the parents] with the objective of their crime.
If you give them [their undocumented children] a pardon, it would consist of eliminating or reducing the penalty that exists. That's amnesty.
I'm not without compassion, I see the DREAM Act as the strongest argument they have, but it still meets the definition of amnesty. We need to restore the rule of law, we need to restore the expectation that the law will be enforced. Until we can do that, why would we grant a path to citizenship.
FNL: Do you think it will get support in Congress?
SK: They would have a hard time getting it through the [House] Judiciary Committee. I don't think the votes are there to pass the DREAM Act. The closer you get to elections, the more it becomes a political decision rather than a policy decision.
[Some] simply see the undocumented in this country as being undocumented Democrats.
People come here for the rule of law, that's the reason.
I don't want to erode the rule of law, and have a Third World disrespect of the rule of law. We'll end up more like Mexico.
Elizabeth Llorente can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org