King

King’s stance on immigration

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In an exclusive interview, Rep. Steve King outlined his vision for immigration policy in the United States.

By Maria Curi | maria-curi@uiowa.edu

Soon after he tweeted “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, laid out his position on immigration in an interview with The Daily Iowan that can be broken down into three main points. One: above all else, restore the respect for the rule of law; two: once respect for the law is restored, enact a merit-based immigration system; three: tap into the pool of unemployed Americans in case of labor shortages.
The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

The Daily Iowan: Can you summarize your vision for immigration policy in America?

Rep. Steve King: That foundation that is our country today is rooted on a number of things … but certainly in the center from our immigration perspective is the rule of law. Our Founding Fathers took the trouble of writing into the Constitution an enumerated power for Congress to regulate immigration, and so when those laws are violated, it erodes the rule of law.

DI: The rule of law changes as time goes on, how does that fit into your ideology?

King: Well, that’s pretty easy. Our Founding Fathers gave us the means to amend the Constitution, and if we don’t like the policy that emanates from that Constitution, then we should amend it, and when we do amend it I accept it, I embrace it, it is the supreme law of the land without hesitation. And so I don’t have any trouble with that, and the immigration laws that we have are clear. When law enforcement encounters people who are unlawfully present in America, the law requires that they place them into removal proceedings. Ignoring that law is one of the reasons we have such a big problem today.   [1]

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DI: Do you think the current laws that we have should be changed in order to be more reflective of the economic relationship between Mexico and the United States and the labor force that immigrants represent?

King: The first thing we need to do is restore the respect for the rule of law; that’s been more than a 30-year endeavor on my part. I’m not advocating that we change any laws that would provide for amnesty because we have to restore the respect for the rule of law. I don’t believe it’s 11 million people in the country illegally … I think that number is going to be closer to 20 million, but regardless of the number’s, if the law is enforced there will be people who make the decision to go home again.   [2]

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. . .

First we need to respect the rule of law, then establish an immigration policy that’s designed to enhance the economic, the social, and the cultural well-being of the United States of America. Any country’s immigration policy should be to enhance your country. For example, Australia and Canada have a merit system, and they rank five different qualifiers, and they give them points for each one. They want people who are young so they have time to contribute before they retire, they want them young with an education and earning capacity and English language skills because that’s the No. 1 indicator of their ability to assimilate into society and capital, those are the five indicators that are pretty much universal between Australia and Canada. We need to look at something like that.   [3]

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. . .

There are 82 million Americans that are  an an available workforce. What nation in its right mind would import people from other countries under the false statement that there’s work that Americans won’t do? That’s simply never been true. It’s an excuse but not a reason. So we should draw from those 82 million Americans that are there. We have over 70 different federal-means tested welfare programs in America who are borrowing money from China to bribe Americans not to work so they can sit on the couch instead of going on the assembly line and punch the time clock. And that’s wasted human resource.   [4]

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DI: Recent data from the Pew Research Center shows that more Mexican immigrants are leaving the United States than coming in. In light of this, why do you think building a wall makes sense?

King: Well, I go down to the border. I see what’s going on down there and if that data is accurate it’s very recent data. I know that they do some analysis that gets pretty sophisticated in where people are but I think there are a lot more people living in the shadows than they’re able to find. We don’t have a means of finding people that are going back and we don’t do a very good job at counting the people coming in. We’ve long said that if we interdict a certain number of people, they use that as an estimate of how many people are actually coming across the border illegally. I’ve spent a good number of nights sitting down there at the border watching it happen and listening in the dark and having it flow around me and I’ve been part of the interdictions of illegal drugs and drug smuggling. And I’m aware of the people who we call people of interest from nations of interest, which we might just shorthand that and say those who may or are likely inclined to be terrorists. That’s all going on. 80 to 90 percent of the illegal drugs consumed in America come from or through Mexico and we are losing a number of some place between I think 47 thousand and 52 thousand Americans die to drug overdose each year much of that is the opioid epidemic, some of that prescription, much of that is smuggled heroine into the United States and so when I look at that data plus Central Americans are pouring across the border in numbers that are very close to their peak right now. So it isn’t just a question of Mexican illegal immigration coming into America but it’s the big question of contraband primarily drugs and also likely terrorists coming across. And Central Americans coming in that are harder to deport because we don’t have an agreement with some of those countries on taking their illegal aliens back. We need to secure that border, it’s a great threat to our national security. The economics have temporarily slowed down with the Mexican migration to America, I agree with that but still of the population of illegal aliens in America, two-thirds of them are Mexican.

DI: We have a problem of young native Iowans leaving the state and taking the labor force they represent with them. In towns like West Liberty, young immigrant workers have revived the economy. How do we compensate this with immigration policy that is based on deportation?

King: Well when we’re using the word in this discussion- immigrant- interchangeably with illegal immigrant…we got to separate that. The legal immigration is something that America has long celebrated and that I celebrate and I speak with naturalization services whenever I can. It’s a really joyous time and an uplifting feeling and I always ask them, “Do you know what day it is today?” and they will tell me and I will say, “because the rest of your life you will remember this day that you became an American.”  That’s the difference. Part of that universe are illegal aliens that are working in these jobs and when the day comes that they’re no longer in America, those jobs will be filled some way. So what has happened is, and I’ve watched this happen, I mean I grew up and went to high school in Dennison and was born in Storm Lake, both of those towns were packing plant towns, and I watched for example when a packing plant about 30 years ago was functioning. And I’ll say the community was vibrant and the people working the line in that plant were making the equivalent of a teacher with a college education. But, it shifted the other way and the plant went under partly because the wages were a little too high to compete, I expect. But when IBP (Iowa Beef Packers) bought that plant and opened it back up they began to recruit labor out of southern Mexico. They had billboards out in southern Mexico and they cleaned out, sometimes, whole small communities of adult, young men who came up to work in the plant. They were illegal aliens. Iowa beef packers hired them and they cut the wages in about half. There are these guys doing the same work that their predecessors have been doing, the teachers who were making twice as much as they are making now, and IBP got a discount on cheap labor. Now, if we had secured our borders and enforced our immigration laws then we were going to process hogs and we were going to process cattle and turkeys and chickens and that’s all going to happen because people are going to eat. So, what do we do if we need more people to work in the plant? You raise wages and you go out and recruit. If you’re going to recruit Americans, they probably would have gone to the inner city and offered wages to recruit people and brought them in. Well that would have been Americans working on the line that were American citizens or green card holders on the way to becoming an American citizen and then the rule of law in this country would look entirely different. But because there was a blind eye that was turned as far back as 30 years ago…and I haven’t been just critical of Barack Obama, George W. Bush and I would go around and around on the topic, and I’ve said that ever since Eisenhower the immigration laws in this country have been enforced less and less. Barack Obama took it to another level. They have thrown the rule of law in this country and it threatens to drag us down into third world eventually if we don’t do this. And so we want to stay the first of the first world, western civilization countries, a beacon for the world and we can’t do that without the rule of law.