Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Let's deport Rep. Steve King

By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Fri July 26, 2013
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, sings the National Anthem as activists rally against the Senate's immigration legislation.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, sings the National Anthem as activists rally against the Senate's immigration legislation.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 8 Dreamers reentered U.S. and got caught, but U.S. doesn't know what to do with them
  • Rep. Steve King once proposed an electric fence on border, said "we do this with livestock"
  • He also said for each valedictorian Dreamer, 100 Dreamers are drug smugglers
  • Ruben Navarrette: Deported Dreamers a lot better for our society than Rep. King

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.

San Diego, California (CNN) -- "Dreamers" always seem to find themselves in the eye of the storm, and that's where they are at the moment.

The term refers to those undocumented young people who -- if they attend college or join the military -- might have been eligible for legal status under the DREAM Act, which died an ugly death in the Senate in December 2010.

Dreamers were brought to the United States as children, and they are Americans in every way -- both good and bad. On the positive side, many of them recognize and cherish America's greatness. On the negative side, many of them are just as self-centered and entitled as many of our homegrown young people are.

This week, that dynamic played out again on the U.S.-Mexico border. A group of Dreamers who were born in Mexico and brought to the United States as children only to be deported back to Mexico tried to reenter the United States. It was as if they were saying to their adopted country, "You're not getting rid of us that easily."

You just don't see this kind of thing every day.

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

It made for high drama on the border. Eight Dreamers who have been deported mustered up the chutzpah to march back into the United States across the Arizona-Mexico border only to be apprehended. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is trying to figure out what to do with these young people.

Meanwhile, at least one member of Congress seems intent on carrying on the American tradition of labeling immigrants as deficient, defective, defiant, and dangerous. Now, to that list, add drug-smuggling.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is known for his exaggerations and wild nativist outbursts. In July 2006, King suggested that the U.S. government electrify the fence on the U.S.-Mexico border because, back in Iowa, "we do this with livestock all the time."

Now King has really outdone himself. With Republicans poised to introduce their own version of the DREAM Act, he recently suggested that -- contrary to the popular image of undocumented students brought here by their parents who become class valedictorian -- young illegal immigrants are just as likely to enter the country as drug mules.

Rep King on immigration controversy

Specifically, King said this in an interview last week with conservative media outlet Newsmax about what he considers the appropriate ratio of valedictorian to smuggler:

"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."

This week, instead of apologizing, the acid-tongued lawmaker doubled down on those comments.

"It's not something that I'm making up," King told the host of an Iowa-based radio show. "This is real. We have people that are mules, that are drug mules, that are hauling drugs across the border and you can tell by their physical characteristics what they've been doing for months, going through the desert with 75 pounds of drugs on their back.

"And if those who advocate for the DREAM Act, if they choose to characterize this about valedictorians, I gave them a different image that we need to be thinking about because we just simply can't be passing legislation looking only at one component of what would be millions of people."

King's remarks are causing heartburn for GOP leaders who are trying to fix the party's unpopularity among Hispanic voters. This obviously doesn't help. They criticized his remarks, but they didn't take any action to punish him.

"There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language," House Speaker John Boehner said in his statement. "Everyone needs to remember that."

Meanwhile, remember those eight Dreamers locked up in Arizona? Immigration officials seem unsure of what to do with them. They could send them back to Mexico, but the young people are almost certain to keep trying to reenter the United States. This is their home, and they want to go home. They're Americans all right -- stubborn, confident, determined, and not likely to give up when they think they're right.

I have a solution and a way to reconcile these two stories. It's all about usefulness, and who is likely to do the most good and make the greater contribution to this country.

Let's keep the kids -- and deport the congressman.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
updated 3:06 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Simon Tisdall: Has John Kerry's recent track record left Russia's wily leader ever more convinced of U.S. weakness?
updated 12:40 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Mel Robbins says Nate Scimio deserves credit for acting bravely in a frightening attack and shouldn't be criticized for posting a selfie afterward
updated 2:39 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Dr. Mary Mulcahy says doctors who tell their patients the truth risk getting bad ratings from them
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Peggy Drexler says the married Rep. McAllister, caught on video making out with a staffer, won't get a pass from voters who elected him as a Christian conservative with family values
updated 7:43 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
David Frum says the president has failed to react strongly to crises in Iran, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela, encouraging others to act out
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Eric Liu says Paul Ryan gets it very wrong: The U.S.'s problem is not a culture of poverty, it is a culture of wealth that is destroying the American value linking work and reward
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Frida Ghitis writes: "We are still seeing the world mostly through men's eyes. We are still hearing it explained to us mostly by men."
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Chester Wisniewski says the Heartbleed bug shows how we're all tangled together, relying on each other for Internet security
updated 3:26 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Danny Cevallos says an Ohio school that suspended a little kid for pointing his finger at another kid and pretending to shoot shows the growth in "zero tolerance" policies at school run amok
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT