BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - There's no doubt Rep. Steve King of Iowa is among the most outspoken critics of immigration in the Republican Party. But his remarks in which he labeled undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, a group known as DREAMers as being drug smugglers, is drawing condemnation from other Republicans.
The Iowa congressman said DREAMers should not be given legal status because most of them are drug smugglers.
"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," said King. He did not offer proof to substantiate his claim.
DREAMers are young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, raised and educated in this country. Many do not know any other country than the United States. Countless DREAMers graduated high school as valedictorians and their hope is that Congress eventually pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that grants them legal status.
"I wasn't a valedictorian but I did graduate from Cal State Bakersfield with a 3.56 GPA," said Paola Fernandez, a DREAMer.
"I think it's too bad that someone who has those sentiments who is obviously speaking out of ignorance doesn't understand the issue," she said.
King's comments were quickly condemned by other Republicans. "He's out of touch and has no credibility," said Rep. David Valadao. The Hanford Republican is among a group of Republicans in the House of Representatives who support comprehensive immigration reform.
"We need to have an honest debate about immigration reform and focus on the real issues at hand. But to start making comments like that doesn't help the conversation, doesn't bring anything intelligent to the conversation," said Valadao.
In response to King's comments that DREAMers have "calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert," three undocumented immigrants delivered cantaloupes to King's office and called for his removal from the House Judiciary Committee.
With Congress set to go on vacation for August recess, any bill on comprehensive immigration reform will have to wait until members return to session in September.