WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – South Florida Congressman Joe Garcia took aim at Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) Tuesday after the Iowan said most undocumented immigrants were smuggling drugs into the country.
“Some of them are valedictorians, and their parents brought them in,” King said in an interview with the conservative news site Newsmax. “It wasn’t their fault. It’s true in some cases, but they aren’t all valedictorians. For every one 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.”
Congressman Garcia, who was at a House hearing Monday with King, took aim at the Iowan’s comments saying they were “beneath the dignity of this body and this country.”
“When members of this committee — when members of this House — use inflammatory language, use offensive language, it does not help the progress,” Garcia said, according to Politico.com.
Congressman Garcia wasn’t alone in his swift rebuttal of King’s comments. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) both were very critical of King’s remarks. Boehner called the comments “hateful” and Cantor said he “strongly disagreed” with King’s statement.
King has long been one of Congress’ flame throwers when it comes to many policies, especially immigration. King is an influential member of the tea party wing of the Republican Party and while leadership is staying away from his comments, other Republicans have embraced King’s rhetoric.
It’s part of the difficult position Boehner and Republican leaders find themselves in with the immigration reform movement. If Boehner and other GOP leaders go too far, they will be painted by the tea party as being too willing to work with Democrats and face more conservative primary challenges.
If no immigration reform comes from the House, Democrats and other more moderate groups can accuse the GOP leadership of being too extreme and like King, which could hurt minority outreach which will be key to long-term sustained success for the GOP.