Illegal immigration foe passed over for chairman of Judiciary subpanel

An avid illegal immigration foe, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) will not continue as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee's Immigration subcommittee.

Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced his selection for subcommittee chairman on Friday, and California Rep. Elton Gallegly (R) was chosen to head the Immigration and Enforcement panel.

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King, who served as the ranking Republican on the Immigration subcommittee since 2007, was selected as vice chairman of the panel.

He has long been an outspoken foe of illegal immigration — and has been viewed as the successor to former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) as the party's lead anti-illegal immigration proponent.

In 2006, King went to the House Floor and built a model of a concrete border fence that he suggested should be electrified.

“We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time,” King said at the time.

On Thursday, the Iowa Republican introduced a bill to eliminate “anchor babies.”

The bill, formally named the “Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011,” would bar children born on United States soil to “illegal alien parents” from automatically becoming citizens.

King’s bill would alter the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that declares, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

King’s measure would change the amendment to require that at least one of parent of a child born in the U.S. be a citizen.

A Judiciary committee source refrained from commenting on King's relegation to vice chairman but explained that other ranking members of subcommittees did not ascend to chair their panels.

They did, however, take subcommittee chairmen positions on different Judiciary panels - with the exception of outspoken conservative Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas.)

For his part, Gallegly, the incoming head of the Immigration and Enforcement subcommittee intends to hold his first two hearings on oversight of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worksite enforcement and the E-Verify employment screening program.

“We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws,” Gallegly said. “Most of my district casework concerns helping legal immigrants. Like our ancestors, immigrants who come here legally want to be American citizens, with all the responsibilities that go with it. It is unfair to those who put in the time and effort to immigrate here legally to allow illegal immigrants to break in through the back door.

“The answer to illegal immigration is fairly simple," he said. "First, we must enforce our laws and secure the border. Second, we must remove the magnets that encourage illegal immigration. Finally, we must remove the benefits that make it easy for them to stay.

This post was updated at 2:50 p.m.