Miami Rep. Joe Garcia gave an impassioned speech yesterday in the U.S. House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security where he tore into Iowa Rep. Steve King for saying illegal immigrant kids are more likely to be drug runners than valedictorians.
House Speaker John Boehner called his fellow Republican's comments "wrong."
But they're just right for campaigning purposes for Garcia, a Democrat, who just sent out an email highlighting King's comments and asking supporters to get involved, volunteer or donate.
"As a Hispanic, I am offended - but as an American, I am disgusted," Garcia wrote in a campaign email.
For the Democrat, it's a three-fer of an issue: 1) it raises money 2) it helps raise Garcia's profile and 3) it makes immigration and hardline Republican approaches to the issue part of his campaign. Democrats have already lit into one of Garcia's challengers, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, over immigration (more here).
Curbelo, a Republican who said his support for comprehensive immigration reform has been "unwavering" for years, made it clear that, when it comes to King's comments, he agrees with Garcia."@SteveKingIA comments were inaccurate, stupid, and do not represent the views of @GO," Curbelo said on Twitter, in a message that's designed to make King see it.
King, who also made comments suggesting immigration policy should be like picking a "bird dog," is rapidly becoming a problem for many mainstream Republicans for his inflammatory comments. Aside from Boehner's rebuke, Univision went after King earlier this week for his "bird dog" comments.
Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who tussled with King, has crusaded to pass the DREAM Act for college-bound undocumented children brought to this country by their parents. He said King "compared immigrants to dogs." King accused Ramos of a "mischaracterization." (more here).
Interviews like this are dangerous for Republicans. Univision, a Spanish-language powerhouse, was the nation's most-watched network in July. Its audience is only growing, and many of them vote.
Then King said this to NewsMax:
“There are kids that were brought into this country by their parents unknowing they were breaking the law. And they will say to me and others who defend the rule of law, ‘We have to do something about the 11 million. Some of them are valedictorians.’ Well, my answer to that is…it’s true in some cases, but 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 who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”
Garcia yesterday singled out the comments in committee, where he didn't mention King by name:
"When members of this committee -- when members of this House -- use inflammatory language, use offensive language, it does not help the process. In my district, I have multiple schools who on a regular basis produce valedictorians, and they are undocumented. However, when members of this House, use language such as 'for everyone that is a valedictorian, there is another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds -- and have calves the size of cantaloupes because they've been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,' it is offensive. And it is beneath the dignity of this body and this country.... This is an American problem. And we need to work together."King is one of the most-vocal immigration-reform opponents and has crusaded for more border security. But with comments like the ones above, it's little wonder that 59% of voters in a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll said Republican calls for more border security is an "excuse to block reform." Only 36 percent said it was a "legitimate concern."
**Note: This post has been updated. Garcia supporters point out that the email was a standard campaign email that didn't have a specific "ask" for donations. So it technically wasn't just a fundraising email, as the previous headline and other parts of this blog said or indicated.