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July 26, 2013 0

ADL Commends Legislators For Taking Stand Against Rep. Steve King’s Demonizing Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Those who have fol­lowed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King’s (R–IA) habit of demo­niz­ing immi­grants as crim­i­nals may not have been sur­prised when he told a jour­nal­ist last week that “there are 100 Mex­i­can immi­grants, with calves the size of can­taloupes, smug­gling drugs for every DREAMer valedictorian.”  steve-king

This fol­lows a long his­tory of deroga­tory and hate­ful anti-immigrant rhetoric by King and oth­ers who pre­fer to obstruct progress toward a leg­isla­tive solu­tion that could actu­ally address the seri­ous prob­lem of America’s bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem. ADL sent a let­ter to Rep. King today urg­ing him to retract his offen­sive state­ments and to refrain from using incen­di­ary and inap­pro­pri­ate language.

Despite wide­spread crit­i­cism for his offen­sive com­ments on immi­grant chil­dren, Rep. King insisted again on June 25on the House floor that undoc­u­mented immi­grant chil­dren are often drug mules who carry ille­gal sub­stances across the bor­der from Mexico.

There was a swift and tar­geted con­dem­na­tion that fol­lowed from the top House lead­ers, as well as other key play­ers in the immi­gra­tion con­ver­sa­tion, includ­ing the House Judi­ciary Immi­gra­tion Sub­com­mit­tee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) and Major­ity Leader Eric Can­tor (R–VA) stepped up to con­demn the remarks imme­di­ately. The Speaker called on leg­is­la­tors to reject hate­ful com­ments that he said were “deeply offen­sive and wrong.” Can­tor, the second-ranking House Repub­li­can, said: “I strongly dis­agree with his char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the chil­dren of immi­grants and find the com­ments inexcusable.”

At Speaker John Boehner’s weekly press brief­ing yes­ter­day, he again con­demned Rep. King’s remarks within the first minute of the brief­ing – unprompted and force­fully saying:

“I want to be clear: There is no place in this debate for hate­ful or igno­rant com­ments from elected offi­cials. Ear­lier this week, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King made com­ments that, I think were deeply offen­sive and wrong. What he said does not reflect the val­ues of the Amer­i­can peo­ple or the Repub­li­can Party. We all need to do our work in a con­struc­tive, open, and respect­ful way.”

ADL has con­sis­tently called on polit­i­cal lead­ers and can­di­dates to speak out against intol­er­ant and dehu­man­iz­ing rhetoric. In let­ters to Reps. Boehner and Can­tor ADL com­mended their lead­er­ship in pub­licly reject­ing such rhetoric. ADL hopes other leg­is­la­tors will fol­low.  The let­ters noted that “poli­cies adopted in the halls of gov­ern­ment, and the tenor and rhetoric used to debate them, directly impact the lives of immi­grants and all minor­ity groups, regard­less of their immi­gra­tion status.” 

The task of fix­ing America’s bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem is urgent and seri­ous and demo­niz­ing immi­grants does lit­tle to advance con­struc­tive solu­tions.  It mer­its a respect­ful pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion that upholds America’s best ideals of ensur­ing dig­nity for all and that hon­ors America’s her­itage as a nation of immigrants. 

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