Garth Kant is WND Washington news editor. Previously, he spent five years writing, copy-editing and producing at "CNN Headline News," three years writing, copy-editing and training writers at MSNBC, and also served several local TV newsrooms as producer, executive producer and assistant news director. He is the author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, "How to Write Television News."More ↓Less ↑
Nothing is dividing Republicans like immigration.
Some in the GOP think they need to back immigration reform because they believe weak Hispanic support cost Mitt Romney the 2012 election.
Other Republicans think the proposed reform is little more than an amnesty bill that would both hurt the nation and not help the GOP at the polls.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, represents a state in the middle of the country but he has made numerous trips to the southern border to assess the illegal immigration situation for himself.
King sat down with WND for an exclusive interview to share his thoughts on this difficult subject. WND divided the interview into five videos, each one covering a different topic in the immigration debate.
The congressman began by discussing the bill currently under consideration in the Senate crafted by the so-called “Gang of Eight.” The “gang” consists of four Democratic and four Republican senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has been promoting the bill heavily in public. The legislation would give legal status to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S, which critics such as King call amnesty.
King is wary of the fact it is “instantaneous legalization, now. That is breathtaking in its scope when you think that a year ago it was a political liability to be for The Dream Act,” which would’ve only given in-state tuition rates to young people in the country illegally.
“That was very controversial. Now, with the support of four Republicans, they’re advocating for the instantaneous legalization of everyone,” added King.
The lawmaker also mentions other problems he sees with the bill such as inadequate border security and a weakening of the nation-state.
King thinks it is curious the GOP thinks it could win more elections by giving illegal immigrants amnesty. He points out Republican presidential candidates always have attracted a low percentage of Hispanic voters, with the exception of George W. Bush, and that’s because he was from Texas.
The Iowan says even though Republicans recognize “Hispanics will vote by two-to-one for more taxes, more government, more services, and that’s what Democrats have to sell…Republicans are selling too much of that, in my opinion, but they can’t sell it as well as Democrats can.”
Another problem King sees with trying to buy their vote with amnesty is Hispanics don’t really put a high priority on immigration reform. Polls show it is usually fifth or sixth on their list.
He observes, Republicans “[A]re advocating we sacrifice the rule of law on the altar of expediency for the purposes of starting a conversation with people who statistically are more likely to vote two-to-one for the Democrats, anyway.”
King questions whether there really are jobs Americans won’t do, if the price is right.
“There are over 100 million Americans who are simply not in the work force. It isn’t that there’s work that Americans won’t do, every single job out there that anyone can name there are Americans doing that job,” said King.
He also explains how illegal immigration helps perpetuate the illegal drug trade.
King says the only thing keeping illegal immigration in check has been the economic downturn since 2008.
He says there are still huge numbers of people crossing the southern border into the U.S. illegally, including “persons of interest from nations of interest,” after they’ve spent a couple of years in Central or South America learning a little Spanish and getting an Hispanic last name.
“I know of seven different cases where I have found out about it because I was on the border near the location and found out from a border patrol agent. Otherwise, they hand them over to the FBI and it becomes classified. So, if I know of seven, there must be many more like that.”
King identifies a big part of the problem as federal benefits acting as an incentive for illegal immigrants, including access to schools and health care.
“There’s a welfare magnet, there’s a jobs magnet and there’s a familial magnet of families who are bringing more family members in.”
King says if the magnet is removed then many “will decide this incentive to come to America or stay in America has been diminished to the point where they either go to, or stay, in their home country.”