Rep. Steve King defends immigration comments amid outrage
July 24th, 2013
09:25 PM ET
8 years ago

Rep. Steve King defends immigration comments amid outrage

Washington (CNN) – As the outcry from Democrat and Republicans alike grows over Rep. Steve King's remarks regarding immigration and drugs, the GOP congressman defended his comments Wednesday.

The comments originally came during a controversial interview last week where he suggested the possibility of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children who excel while receiving an American education was not worth also legalizing the immigration status of drug smugglers.

"For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that, they weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert," King, of Iowa, told the conservative online publication Newsmax. "Those people would be legalized with the same act."

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer Wednesday whether he wanted to amend his comments, King stuck by his original assertion.

"You get one valedictorian per class per year," he said on AC360. "Every night there are dozens and scores of people that are smuggling drugs across our border. I've been down there multiple times. I've sat along the border at night."

Noting the officers he's met while on the border, King claimed that his assertion is factual.

"This isn't something made up in thin air," he said. "I've seen it with my eyes and watched the data and video that support what I say, and the longer this dialogue goes, the more the American people will understand what I'm saying is factually correct."

Several members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus took to the House floor on Wednesday to condemn King's remarks.

In an emotional moment, Rep. Albio Sires, D-New Jersey, described the offense he felt at King's words.

"My parents brought me to this country at the age of 11," he said. "They brought me here for the freedom. They brought me here for the opportunities, and they never told me to strap 75 pounds of marijuana on my thighs so we can sell it in America."

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico, said King's assertions "don't do anything to solve problems or bring us closer to a true bipartisan solution on immigration."

King's comments on immigration come at a difficult time for House Republicans. The group has vowed not to take up a Senate bill on comprehensive immigration reform, which passed last month. Instead they prefer their own version with stronger border control provisions and without a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

It was King who proposed legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June that moved to end an Obama administration policy deferring deportation for some young undocumented immigrants.

House Speaker John Boehner, a fellow Republican, condemned King's remarks on Tuesday, saying: "What he said is wrong. There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language. Everyone needs to remember that."

Another top Republican, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, wrote, "I strongly disagree with his characterization of the children of immigrants and find the comments inexcusable."

But King shrugged those statements off on Wednesday, suggesting the two leaders hadn't viewed his comments in full.

"I don't think they saw the full video or read the full text," he said. "I think they are reacting to part of it and I think it may well be a staff recommendation."

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Immigration • Steve King • TV-Anderson Cooper 360
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Kylie Brant

    Or it could be you really are that out of touch, even within your own party, King. I know you continue to be a huge embarrassment to our state. Every time you open your mouth, venom drips out. I can't wait until you're voted out of office. Next time for sure.

    July 24, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  2. S. B. Stein

    There is no way to defend those words. Not everyone is a smuggler or a dunce.

    July 24, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  3. Susan

    I agree that the bigger problem is the drugs that are coming into this country. I am also from another country. We didn't bring drugs through the border. We came here legally from Canada. Legalization is a privilege not a right. If you weren't born here it is to be earned. I love this country it is the finest in the world to me. Unfortunately, it is coming from the South of our Border not the North. If it were the North I would be just as disturbed. We can't just give amnesty so freely. This to me is not a political issue but a safety issue. If you live down in Laredo Texas I am sure their opinions would be different. They have major drug issues. Drugs running through unprotected borders in the middle of the night. CNN has done reporting on this. We need to stop doing the feel good method of politics and do the reality of the situation. No on immigration amnesty.

    July 24, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  4. will never vote Republician again

    Vote the hateful GOP out!

    July 24, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  5. Grow up already...

    King's an insensitive jerk, but it's hard to get to be valedictorian.... However, just think of his numbers if he would have compared them to white guy serial killers.

    July 24, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  6. Fritz Bayerlein

    Shameful, and the poster boy for conservative Republican haters. One has to wonder at the kind of people who would vote a person like King into public office. Does he reflect their beliefs and values? Probably, and if so it reminds me of the descriptions of German voters in the early 1930's. We know the result of that kind of thinking and we know what the ultimate outcome was, don't we?

    July 24, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  7. Thomas

    Didn't he write the book " COJO " ?

    July 24, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  8. Toni Waterman

    My husband and I appreciate the intent of Mr. King's statement. We do not appreciate the various democrats and republicans speaking against him. We understand that they are more interested in protecting their political lives than taking the chance of "rocking the boat". We appreciate that he stands by what he said and with grace communicated his intent in the face of Mr. Blitzer's attempt to get some other point across or agenda met. Thank you Mr. King.

    July 24, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  9. ja

    most of today's legislators have their heads in the sand on gun control, abortion, and immigration, it is the voters fault, but most politicians are slime and hard to detect

    July 24, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  10. Hooper

    Open mouth, insert foot, then chew like hell. The new republican credo.

    July 24, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  11. jon

    Boy! Some people just hate it when someone else gets it right.

    July 24, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  12. Mark

    This bigot is the voice of the GOP. Remember that everyone! He speaks for the Republicans. He speaks for what is in their hearts, even if they don't have the courage to say it. If you vote for them, you vote for the party of hatred and bigotry.

    July 24, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  13. Tevis

    Truth hurts.

    July 24, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  14. Vence

    This is the best friend Hillary can have!!!

    July 25, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  15. ThinkAgain

    For every U.S. Representative of Irish decent, there are thousands if not ten of thousands of Irish alcoholics on both sides of the Atlantic. Every night there are dozens and scores of the Irish at home and in bars getting loaded. Some of my family are Irish; I've been down there and I've seen it multiple times.

    July 25, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  16. Common sense grandma

    As a Democrat, I love Steve King. Every time he opens his mouth, the Republican Party loses more credibility and another devil gets a pitchfork. You go, Stevie, don't let anyone shut you down or muzzle those fine words that spill out.

    July 25, 2013 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  17. Eriola

    I understand that America can be affected greatly if the immigrants get the right to leave the country do to drugs and other things, but from my opinion you don't have to think about all the Latino people crossing the border with drugs. You also shoul think about all the other races that have to be affected by this decision. There are other people that are suffering from this like my family. We've been in America for 13 years working hard and trying to make a life here. Now I'm going to college and just because I don't have my papers or citzenship I have to pay more. It's not a big deal but what confuses me is that I have te right to be in America but I can't be treated equally. I just want the right to be treated like other Americans and also be able to go see my family. Everyone is growing up, getting married, dieing, and I'm missing so much o these important event in my life. It hurts me knowing that I have family in a different country that I don't even know after living with them for a couple of years before coming to America. I think the government should take this into consideration as well. You can't stop everyone's freedom because of Mexico and the border. Not everyone is coming from Mexico. It's not fair to just think about them

    July 25, 2013 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  18. J.V.Hodgson

    He can claim semantic meanings, spin. or non intention, of what he said, and he clearly shows no intention to apologize.
    I am a simple minded man If:-
    1) The parents came here illegally his view is they must go he still says that ( = splitting the family)
    2) Err if the child was born after Illegal Immigration by the parents in US (for gods sake leave out the, if of if the child was conceived before illegal immigration.) such child under US Born in America laws is a bastard, because the parents were not married in the US legally and such can be equally postulated re a child conceived after illegal immigration, and remains as his parents illegal.
    Republicans should do in the house what they wish on the basis of what they say now, not a hope in hell of significantly changing the voting intentions of Mexicans and Hispanics in any meaningful way with their proposals.
    Stay comfortable stay right, y'all know we are doing what's best for Real Americans!!

    July 25, 2013 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  19. M.A.P.

    I've run out of things to say about the Republicans. They truly leave me speechless. Such incompetence. They are not polititians – they are political commentators, that's all they are.

    July 25, 2013 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  20. M.A.P.

    What more would we expect from a Republican? Clueless, emotive biased opinion being spouted as facts. Does anybody actually believe a word they say anymore?

    July 25, 2013 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  21. chris schmid

    to insinuate that everyone who crosses the border illegally also is smuggling drugs, and that only the best student in each senior class is worthwhile... that's just very hurtful. guess that means that pretty much everyone i've ever met is unworthy..

    July 25, 2013 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  22. Alessandra Padio

    I am legal immigrant who entered this country because I've always believed what this country stands for. I am deeply affected by his comments to both legal and illegal immigrants alike. In fact I am furious. I don't understand why he was elected to be a representative of his constituents when he has a very narrow understanding of issues that affect this country, let alone immigration. He is an example as to why this country is going down the drain.

    July 25, 2013 04:48 am at 4:48 am |

    Wow. Look at the Guns Over People Shutdown Government tea potty scramble. Steve King exposed the truth about them. They hate that.

    July 25, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  24. Marie MD

    This racist is blaming the border patrol for his comments. I guess sitting around at the border doing what? is not enough for him. If he really even has sat at the border.
    This is why the rethugs/tea trolls cannot be trusted that they are trying to do better with everyone "not them". They just can't help themselves. Sort of like akin and murdouch and so many other repugs who are pretending to be better just to get votes.
    We need to take them out starting from the district level in states up to the president. All they want to do is get elected (think many of the red governors and what they have done in the last year who said they would NEVER do it) and squash all our rights by bringing forth laws only hitler would be proud.

    July 25, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  25. TomInRochNY

    Republicans, the party that keeps on giving . . . to the democrats!

    July 25, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
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