House Speaker John Boehner has for the second time this week publicly rebuked Iowa Congressman Steve King, a fellow Republican, for comments King recently made about illegal immigrants.
“I want to be clear: there’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials,” Boehner said. “Earlier this week Representative Steve King made comments that I think were deeply offensive and wrong. What he said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party.”
Last week King did an interview in which he criticized efforts to grant some sort of legal status for so-called “DREAMers” — young adults who were brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents when they were children. King suggested there are more drug smugglers than high school valedictorians among the ranks of DREAMers, and after a firestorm erupted online about those comments King has defended his stand this week.
On Tuesday evening Boehner called King’s comments “wrong” and “hateful.”
King is the leading voice among conservative Republicans in the House who hope to block any attempt at immigration reform. Boehner — the top Republican in the House — opened his weekly news conference in Washington, D.C. with a statement about King’s comments.
“We all need to do our work in a constructive, open and respectful way,” Boehner said. “As I’ve said many times, we can disagree without being disagreeable.”
Boehner replied “of course,” to a reporter who asked if King’s comments complicate efforts to find a compromise on the issue.
“It does make it more difficult, but I’m going to continue to work with members who want to get to a solution as opposed to those who want to do nothing,” Boehner told reporters.
King told Radio Iowa on Tuesday night that House GOP leaders like Boehner are “resentful” because his comments have focused on the security threat some undocumented immigrants pose.
“I have members come up to me on a regular basis and say, ‘I agree with you. I’m not going to be as public as you are, but I support you. I’m behind you,'” King told Radio Iowa.
King opposes any immigration reform measure that would grant what he calls “amnesty” to those who’ve entered the country illegally.