Whatever political points Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King hoped to score this week, let’s not give him any for originality. King took his most recent anti-immigrant comments about undocumented youth straight from an old-school xenophobic playbook, and Americans interested in the immigration debate should understand the extent to which the Congressman has plagiarized the past. Speaking last week to the website Newsmax, the Iowa Representative downplayed immigrants’ hard work, their honesty, and their courage, declaring them a community of drug dealers peddling pot and promoting criminal behavior:
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.
Along with others who oppose comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. Congress, Congressman King no doubt hoped to turn the American public’s attention away from the efforts this week of young people like Santa Clara University law student Lizbeth Mateo, Kenyon College graduate Marco Saavedra, or University of Illinois-Chicago student Lulu Martinez, undocumented activists who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to highlight the fatal costs of our unjust immigration system. These DREAMers pale in the shadow of their fellow Mexican DRUGGies, King now insists, and we should all be far more concerned about the spectre of criminals and smugglers, strong ones with cantalouped calves, who threaten us all. They are the real immigrants.