This Is How Immigration Reform Becomes A Nightmare For The GOP

This Is How Immigration Reform Becomes A Nightmare For The GOP

Florida’s Tea Party has a new plan for Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the man they helped turboboost to national prominence in 2010 by supporting him over moderate Charlie Crist in the GOP primary.

They’re going to recall Florida’s junior senator because he’s been a leader on comprehensive immigration reform.

“They’re done with him,” radio host KrisAnne Hall told National Review Online. “They’re not voting for him and they’re angry. They’re angry because they feel they’ve been deceived.”

The only problem is that Florida law doesn’t allow U.S. senators to be recalled.

So Hall is pushing for legislation that will allow for a recall. Then Rubio will get his. Suuuure.

The Republican Party has two giant problems when it comes to immigration: 1) The people who are paying attention, including the Hispanic media, know that the Senate has a passed a bill that could pass the House if Speaker Boehner would just allow a vote on it; and 2) Many of the loudest voices opposing reform are the exact reason Republican donors are so eager to pass reform now.

Last Friday at a Capitol Hill rally organized by a white nationalist, some of that old-fashioned racism so often prevalent in anti-immigration movements began to bare its yellowed teeth.

“These great Americans who built this country,” said Ken Crow, the former head of Tea Party of America. “You came from them. And the unique thing about being from that part of the world, when you learn about breeding, you learn that you cannot breed Secretariat to a donkey and expect to win the Kentucky Derby. You guys have incredible DNA and don’t forget it.”

So you get one guess at who the “donkey” in this little allegory is.

Crow is a fairly fringe figure on the right. But he spoke from the same stage as Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL).

Also speaking that day was Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the congressman who apologized when his last anti-immigration rally turned into a Marco Rubio roast. King’s unabashed opposition to reform is no secret, as is his contempt for the activists who support it.

Which is why he is exactly the guy Republicans don’t want speaking to the “Walter Cronkite of Hispanic media.”

Too late.

Last Friday, King talked to Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

The congressman said that not only is he against the Senate’s bill, but he still opposes the DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to many of the young people who were brought to this country as children. This very popular legislation has been floated as a minimum gesture House Republicans could make if they don’t pass comprehensive immigration reform.

That’s pretty bad. But when Ramos brought up King’s comments on legal immigration from 2012, in which he compared selecting immigrants for naturalization to picking “a good bird dog,” King made the kind of needle-scratches-across-the-record statement Republicans should fear most.

King said he was celebrating legal immigration. “And anyone that understands the language and the culture knows that if they saw the video.”


Get it, “Walter Cronkite of Hispanic media”? You obviously don’t understand “the language and the culture.”

It’s important to understand that King is not a fringe figure; at least nowhere as fringe as he should be in a functioning political party. He was behind a 224-201 vote in the House in June that called for the deportation of the “DREAMers.” Last year, the president announced that the Department of Homeland Security would stop deporting law-abiding young people who would be eligible for citizenship under the DREAM Act and grant them work permits. King’s bill would reverse that, if anyone except House Republicans were crazy enough to vote for it.

Because Iowa plays a central role in picking Republican presidential nominees and Steve King plays a central role in Iowa politics, the congressman is an actual power broker in the GOP, or at least he’s led us to believe that.

That doesn’t mean King will win this debate. The loud — and relatively small — fringe that opposes all immigration reform is behind him. But the big donors prefer Marco Rubio, who just had some of his best fundraising results ever. And evangelicals want reform even more than big business.

The same way Ted Cruz’s obstinacy is actually helping break through some of the obstruction in the Senate, King’s disturbing rhetoric may force saner House Republicans to act on some sort of compromise version of reform.

Or, if the 2007 immigration fight is prologue, things can only get worse.

Steve King can keep talking and House Republicans could keep listening.

“If [the legislation] stalls or is killed off by conservatives, we could take the Hispanic community and turn them into the African-American community, where we get 4 percent on a good day…” Republican media strategist Paul Wilson said in April. “We could be a lost party for generations.”

Photo: Mark Taylor via


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