Steve King proposes American apartheid

Hillary Clinton, please take a moment to thank Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) for his tremendously effective effort to assure your election in 2016. While some of the 2016 Republican contenders seek the holy grail of attracting the Hispanic vote, some other Republicans in Congress are openly contemptuous of the Hispanic community.

King’s series of anti-immigrant, ad hominem attacks are legendary — but yesterday, he crossed a line from which there is no return.

In what seemed like one of the most insulting debates so far in the House immigration committee that King vice-chairs, he maintains that the “birthright citizenship” provision of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution is no longer operative.

Deeply disturbed by the idea that babies with undocumented mothers born in the U.S. automatically become citizens, like the children of all immigrants until now, he is calling not for a new amendment to the Constitution — unlikely ever to be ratified — but a legislative “fix” that would no longer honor the immigrant roots of this nation, and would further stigmatize undocumented people.

Or more precisely, their American-born children.

{mosads}One more time, the man that has identified undocumented immigration as the biggest threat to America fails to offer a real immigration solution. Instead, he seeks the most radical position possible. Based on his statements, having a permanent underclass of workers in this country, workers without rights, is King’s optimal state.

We are faced with the reality that in today’s Republican Party, a proposal to mangle the U.S. Constitution for partisan — not to mention darker — purposes is not only acceptable, but welcomed.

I did a Google search for reactions from other Republicans to this idea. I could not find another member of Congress who stood up for the Constitution and America’s traditions by criticizing King’s outlandish proposal. Instead, there are the shrill voices of support for King and the mind-numbing silence of the rest of the GOP caucus.

So a man who is the de facto leader of the House of the Representatives GOP’s immigration policy is now taking his unhealthy obsession with immigrants to a whole new level: apartheid.

Politically, King’s birthright position is a sure loser. Barrels of ink have already been used in writing about how American Hispanics see the immigration crisis in our country. While some rather shallow readings of polls would suggest that Latinos are more interested in education and the economy (like all other Americans) than immigration, those same analysts fail to understand that immigration is a transcendent issue.

People, unlike answers in a poll, live multidimensional lives. Yes, they worry about their jobs, economic opportunity, the quality of schools; but Latinos in particular filter the world through a prism that has immigration front and center. Why? It is a threshold matter — it’s about respect.

So every time King and his allies sally forth with yet another attempt to deport the Dreamers, or in this case, to withdraw the constitutionally guaranteed citizenship right of a select group of Americans, they crash into a bigger reality.

There is no path for a Republican candidate in 2016 without significant Latino voter support. This is a mathematical, demographic reality. Making believe that the shrunken electorate of 2014 is somehow a proxy for 2016 is delusional at best.

I don’t think that Latinos will vote for Clinton just because Republicans have repeatedly shown pure contempt for Latino immigrants and their children. Clinton will have to fight for every Latino vote, as she will to win support from all her voters.

But when it comes to rapidly ascendant American Latino and Asian-American voters, Steve King and his radical ideas are the equivalent of several, well-funded SuperPacs dumping money in Hillary Clinton’s favor.

Espuelas, a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, is a political analyst on television, radio and in print. He is the host and managing editor of “The Fernando Espuelas Show,” a daily political talk show syndicated nationally by the Univision America Network. Contact him at and via Twitter @EspuelasVox.

Tags 14th Amendment 2016 presidential election 2016 presidential race birthright citizenship Constitution Immigration Steve King

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