Steve King Bitter Over Immigration Subcommittee Snub

Last Friday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) announced that Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) would head the Subcommittee on Immigration — a position expected to go to Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the lead ranking Republican of the subcommittee last year.

Apparently, King isn’t taking the news too well. Just a few hours after finding out, King told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that not assigning him as head of the subcommittee “makes a difference on the effectiveness [of the subcommittee], and it clearly does.” Now, the National Journal reports that King is also going after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH):

Even in the wake of the “unbelievably tragic” news of the Arizona massacre, King was obviously still smarting from the subcommittee rebuff. He didn’t mince words in placing the blame directly at House Speaker John Boehner.“The speaker holds the big gavel, and he decides who gets the other gavels,” King said. “It makes it very clear that it’s not a meritocracy.” [...]

“John Boehner isn’t very aggressive on immigration,” King said, noting that the GOP “Pledge to America” barely mentions immigration or border security. “It’s the tiniest section,” he said.

While it’s true that Boehner isn’t traditionally counted amongst the House’s immigration hawks, King is skipping over the rather obvious motivations which guided the GOP’s decision. Gallegly’s immigration stance certainly isn’t a moderate one, but he has been able to talk about where he stands on the issue without resorting to the offensive and inflammatory rhetoric that King has notoriously employed.

Gallegly has maintained a much lower public profile on immigration in recent years. Yet, as far as their actual policy positions go, King and Gallegly have a lot in common. The anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA gives both lawmakers an “A” grade for exhibiting a commitment to legislation aimed at lowering both legal and illegal immigration over the course of their careers. The organization’s website shows that, like King, Gallegly has been at the forefront of the effort to deny the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants citizenship and has joined King in co-sponsoring several bills aimed at blocking any legalization programs and establishing ramped-up interior enforcement mechanisms such as a mandatory E-Verify system and the deputization of immigration law.

Gallegly’s impact on the immigration issue also goes a lot farther back than King’s. In 2004 he was one of the few Republicans who co-sponsored a bill that would’ve essentially required hospitals to check the immigration status of its patients. As far back as 1991, Gallegly was already railing on birthright citizenship. Back in 1996, he introduced theGallegly Amendment to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act which would have overturned the Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision and allowed states to deny public education or charge tuition to undocumented children. It passed the House but was removed from the final bill.

Andrea NillThough King is notably disappointed about the GOP leadership’s decision, anti-immigrant groups don’t seem too concerned. The designated hate group, Federation for American Immigration Reform,  congratulated Gallegly “on his well-deserved appointment.” Meanwhile, immigration advocates are anything but relieved. “Until the Republican Party actually changes position on immigration, their ugly faces will still define them,” stated America’s Voice.

Andrea Nill

Republished with permission from the Wonk Room.

Published by the LA Progressive on January 12, 2011
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About Andrea Christina Nill

Andrea Nill is an Immigration Researcher/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Political Science with a concentration in Latin American Studies and Law and Society. Prior to joining the center, Andrea was a Communications Associate at the Immigration Policy Center where she founded the blog, Immigration Impact. Andrea was also a Communications Specialist at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), specializing in bilingual public relations. Andrea was born in Guatemala and grew up in upstate New York.