Congressman Steve King says the immigration policy Republican candidate Newt Gingrich is advocating makes it harder to support Gingrich for president.
Gingrich has said it’s impractical to deport all the illegal immigrants in the country and the “humane” way to deal with many of those who have been in the country for years is to provide some pathway to legal status.
“I think if Speaker Gingrich had that to do over again, he might couch his language a little differently at a minimum. I wouldn’t agree with him on that policy,” King says. “I think that when you give people even a promise that they can stay in the country after they’re here illegally you become more of a magnet and it is a form of amnesty and more people will come in counting on that.”
King has been an outspoken opponent of any sort of “amnesty” for illegal immigration. He opposed former President Bush’s attempt at immigration reform. King’s critique of the Gingrich immigration plan isn’t positive.
“That piece is something that concerns me because the rule of law is one of the essential pillars of American exceptionalism,” King says.
King may endorse a candidate before the January 3 Caucuses, but it appears Gingrich has moved down King’s list because of this issue.
“If we let the rule of law be eroded and if we allow people to be rewarded for breaking the law and, by the way, these people probably had false identification,” King says. “They were working illegally. They maybe just didn’t get arrested in a quarter century.”
King made his comments during taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press” which airs Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Iowa Public Television.
Gingrich earlier this year suggested establishing local boards that would make decisions about the legal status of illegal immigrants in the community, functioning in the same way draft boards did during World War II.
(A previous version of this story had the incorrect air date for the IPTV program. King’s interview will air on Friday at 7:30 p.m.)