Steve King hits back at immigration critics

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Thursday defended himself against Senate Democratic attempts to paint him as the face of obstruction on immigration reform.

King read aloud several quotes from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and countered each of them on the House floor.

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"This is what I get from Senator Chuck Schumer," King said. "He decided he would target me and blame me for the things he believes are failures of the entire House of Representatives."

Senate Democrats have frequently highlighted King's anti-immigration remarks, such as suggesting that many young illegal immigrants were drug mules and that Americans die because of illegal immigrants. Schumer said earlier this month that "my guess is that Republican stomachs churn when they see Steve King spew that kind of rhetoric." 

"That's not exactly collegial dialogue," King responded on Thursday. "I think they [Republican stomachs] might churn when they hear him say those things. Rest easy, mine doesn't. I take this all with good humor. I understand it's a tactic."

King also took issue with Schumer's remark that the Iowa Republican was "winning, and America is losing" on immigration.

"The rest of America is winning each day we can protect the rule of law, each day that we have something left to secure our borders," he responded.

King also dismissed Schumer's suggestion that he was an "extreme outlier on the issue of immigration reform."

"Chuck Schumer represents the extreme outliers and they are socialists, Marxists, progressive, liberal Democrats," King said.

King blasted the comprehensive Senate immigration bill Schumer helped author as "amnesty" that would be too lenient on people who entered the country illegally.

"We need to lead to world. We don't need to necessarily bring all the world to feed the world here in the United States," King said.

The Iowa lawmaker further argued that Democrats did not object to illegal immigration because it boosted population statistics — and therefore, representation in Congress — for border states even though illegal immigrants can't vote.

"So Democrats are happy enough to see the country filling up with people that they get to count when they get a Democrat district," King continued.

He said that wasn't the case in his northwestern Iowa district.

"I have a very, very high percentage of real American citizens that do vote in my district. And I have a higher turnout of people responsible enough to vote," King said.

In concluding his speech, King dismissed suggestions from Senate Democrats that he was xenophobic and afraid of people who were different from him. 

"Well, I don't often get accused of being afraid of anything ... Chuck Schumer is not like me. I'm not afraid of him. So that's no xenophobia," King said. "What xenophobia are they talking about?" 

In response, Schumer tweeted that he would "happily" debate King if the House brought an immigration overhaul to the floor.

This story was updated at 4:18 p.m.