Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has been a vocal opponent of immigration reform, but a new poll finds a majority of his constituents support efforts to give citizenship to many of the nation’s illegal immigrants.
A poll from the American Action Network released on Wednesday shows that 68 percent of voters in King’s district support creating a pathway to “legal status” for illegal immigrants already in the country. Sixty-five percent back a pathway to “citizenship.”
Overall, the poll found 69 percent of voters in King’s district support comprehensive immigration reform, with 17 percent opposed. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans said they backed overhauling the nation’s immigration laws.
The poll comes as King has drawn criticism from House GOP leaders for comments he made opposing efforts to grant citizenship to young illegal immigrants, many of whom were brought to the country as children by their parents.
In an interview last week King depicted many immigrant children as criminal drug traffickers.
“For everyone who's a valedictorian there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds, and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” King said. “These people would be legalized with the same act."
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) quickly condemned the remarks as “wrong,” with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) calling the comments “inexcusable.”
The House GOP is currently weighing immigration reform, after the Senate last month passed a comprehensive bipartisan measure.
As part of that effort, Cantor and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) are working on a bill that would provide citizenship to some young illegal immigrants.
In an interview with The Hill, King said that opposition to “amnesty” for illegal immigrants is growing in the House.
“There are dozens, scores of us and we're meeting on a weekly basis," King said.