Congress is currently in recess. It’s town hall time, when congressmen take advantage of their break to catch up with constituents and explain what they’ve done or failed to do. One of the big issues that is coming up in town hall meetings is immigration. Republicans, however, are laying low for the most part, except for Representative Steve King from Iowa.

King is traveling around his district to prevent any kind of immigration reform and to spew anti-immigrant sentiments. He argues that the further south one goes in the Americas, the more violent the civilization. King says that “‘If you bring people from a violent civilization into a less-violent civilization, you’re going to have more violence right? It’s like pouring hot water into cold water, does it raise the temperature or not?’”

He contends that children from illegal immigrants are more likely to be drug smugglers than high school valedictorians. He calls them “drug mules” and believes that he has the evidence and the numbers to back his statements.

The bottom line is that Mr. King is a xenophobe. He doesn’t represent the Republican Party or conservative ideas. In fact, Speaker of the House John Boehner called the congressman’s remarks “deeply offensive and wrong.” Majority Whip Eric Cantor joined Boehner to condemn such remarks.

But King’s remarks are far from new to the United States. He represents a hate toward the immigrant that has an unfortunate long-standing tradition in our country against people from China, Ireland, Poland and many other countries. These immigrant groups, like Hispanics today, were rejected because of their supposed predisposition to crime or immorality. For instance, The Chicago Post editorialized that sending Irish immigrants back to their country “would end crime in this country.” Imbecility speaks for itself.

This kind of hate instigated anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic sentiments from the KKK and various other organizations. Congressman King, a Catholic,  should understand that his family was likely prone to the same kind of hateful sentiment that he is supporting himself. He should learn from the bigotry that many Americans in the past experienced as they stepped into the States.

This is not about ideology. Mr. King’s agenda comes from a hate toward the immigrant rather than from a conservative doctrine. I am a conservative, a Republican, and a naturalized American citizen. I am also an immigrant from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I can tell you that Congressman King is completely wrong. My family and friends from South America are not predestined to be more violent or more prone to engage in drug activity than any average American. We are simply people that happen to come from another country. In fact, we happen to come from the southernmost country of the Americas, and we are not more violent than the average American.

As offended as I may be along with many other Hispanics, I welcome statements like King’s. He actually helps immigration reform. Individuals like King force Democrats and Republicans alike to rebuke bigotry and ultimately induce a larger support for immigration reform. Because let’s be frank, who wants to join Team King? It’s much more appealing to stand against Congressman King and endorse the exact opposite of what he’s advocating.

King’s statements also helps voters to understand the intention behind blocking immigration reform. There is a difference between securing the borders and promoting nativism, but many congressmen seem to care more about blocking any kind of immigration reform than actually securing the border.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Congressman Gohmert are of this kind of brand. They appeared on Glenn Beck’s show with Congressman King to again oppose amnesty or any kind of pathway to citizenship.  They won’t consider immigration reform because they want to secure the border first. The fact that should make many question their intention is that they opposed an immigration bill crafted in the U.S. Senate that would appropriate an additional $46 billion for border security.

And yet, these three congressmen condemned the bill and voted against it as a Democratic bill even though it was created by Republican Senators Corker and Hoeven. This kind of obstructionism stems more from nativism than a genuine concern for the borders. People need to come out against politicians like Steve King and finally fix a broken immigration system that does a disservice to both immigrants and American citizens alike.


Alex Uzarowicz | Knox College | @AUzarowicz