You knew it was just a matter of time before young undocumented immigrants began delivering cantaloupes to Rep. Steve King’s Washington office. And on Thursday, three young students did just that -- while also asking to meet with him.
And who can blame them after the Iowa Republican made odd and insulting claims about young immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children, suggesting that many of those so-called Dreamers are involved in the drug trade.
King said that while some may be valedictorians, they “aren’t all valedictorians; they weren’t all brought in by their parents; for every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that they weigh 130 pounds, and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
Frankly, I find it hard to get too outraged by King’s comments, given his long track record of making offensive statements involving immigrants. Who can forget last year, when he compared immigrants to dogs, stating that the United States has the pick of the litter. Or the time in 2006 when he showed up on the House floor with a model of an electrified fence that he proposed should be built along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration, noting that we already do something similar with livestock. And anyone familiar with House Judiciary Committee hearings has surely heard King’s repeated rants that do little to inform the public debate or policy and everything to appeal to nativists.
Some will say that House GOP leaders, including Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), have already stepped up and done the right thing by denouncing the cantaloupe comments as “wrong” and “inexcusable.”
That's fine, but Republicans can't pretend that they don't agree with some of King's mean-spirited and misguided legislative efforts. Last month, the House passed a King amendment to the Homeland Security spending bill that calls for defunding a temporary deferred action program created last year that offered Dreamers a temporary reprieve from deportation.
In the meantime, I'm glad to see the Dreamers are having a little fun at King's expense and using his attempt at publicity to gain a little for their own cause. Keep those cantaloupes coming, kids.