Should illegal Haitian immigrants in the U.S. be deported they could help in the relief effort underway there, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said Friday.

King -- the top Republican on the House Judiciary immigration subcommittee -- told ABC News that mounting calls on the White House to grant Haitian nationals in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may just be a ruse by proponents of open borders.


"This sounds to me like open borders advocates exercising the Rahm Emanuel axiom: 'Never let a crisis go to waste,'" King, said in an e-mail. "Illegal immigrants from Haiti have no reason to fear deportation, but if they are deported, Haiti is in great need of relief workers, and many of them could be a big help to their fellow Haitians." 

King remarks may indicate that tensions over the immigration status of Haitians in the U.S., which previously had been simmering below the surface, could be coming to a head in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake there.

Over 80 lawmakers, including at least eight Republicans, have called on the Obama administration to grant TPS to Haitians. The status is typically enacted if it is unsafe for nationals to return to their home countries due to armed conflict or natural disasters.

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti has left hundreds of thousands estimated dead and has destroyed roads, buildings and hospitals. President Barack Obama has pledged $100 million to bolster relief efforts there.

H/t Wonkroom