Steve King (R-IA), along with what has been dubbed the "suicide caucus" members like Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have been on a real roll: they managed to push the House away from any border crisis funding, and had a vote to do away with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, two very far right talking points that riles up their base.
There was, however, an awkward moment when Erika Andiola confronted Rep. Steve King in Iowa Monday night. Erika is a DREAMer taken to the U.S. to escape violence, and has since graduated from the psychology program from ASU. Now in her twenties, she has been living in the country since the age of 12, never having an opportunity to adjust her status in a broken system: if she can't be allowed to stay, the implication is that Republicans are falling back on a "deport them all" strategy for our nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants, a completely unrealistic proposition.
Rand Paul (R-KY), 2016 hopeful sitting next to Steve King, choked on his food, was grabbed by an aide and fled the scene before he could be pulled into Steve King's latest crazy quote on immigration.
"If you are trying to kill DACA, I want to give you the opportunity to rip my DACA card" said Andiola to King in the state that will all too soon officially kick off primary season. While many understand that Nate Silver is probably right again and Democrats will likely lose a few seats, there are still opportunities to energize voters on immigration before 2014 elections, and those disparaging statements about refugee children and DACA recipients aren't going anywhere: come 2016, they'll be impossible to explain away.
Anyone who wants to win over enough Latinos to be serious about national office will need to have the right answer to this: what do you say to Erika Andiola, one of the most sympathetic people in the immigrant and Latino rights movements, when she asks you do you want to deport her?
Despite winning a huge portion of the white vote, Romney lost Latino and Asian voters by over 70 percent, at least partially over immigration reform: his rhetoric was at times dehumanizing on issues felt very personally by these communities. Since then, Republicans have only gotten worse, maligning the children that look like they are in kennels, saying that these kennels are too good for them and that we should do away with an anti-sex trafficking law to deport them faster.
"You understand the English language, right?" asked King condescendingly during an awkward argument. He was trying to explain why he believed she could be deported, and Cesar Vargas, also on video, should not be allowed to enlist in the military. In case you are wondering, this is not the way to answer "will you deport popular undocumented immigrants with broad support from the Latino community." He then went forward with a laundry list of talking points for several minutes, going so far as to dismiss the sacrifice of an undocumented soldier killed in the line of duty because he lied to get into the military.
With quotes like that, Republicans should rethink who they allow to lead the party on immigration: right now he's the standard-bearer for the entire party on immigration.