Boehner whacks King again, says comments make immigration progress

House Speaker John Boehner issued a second scathing rebuke of immigration foe Rep. Steve King on Thursday after the Iowa Republican stood by comments characterizing most young undocumented immigrants as “drug mules.”

“I want to be clear, there's no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials,” said Boehner, who first excoriated King’s language in a statement Tuesday night. “Earlier this week Rep. Steve King made comments that I think are deeply offensive and wrong. What he said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party.”

Boehner acknowledged that comments like King’s complicate Republicans’ efforts to pass legislation through the House to address the issue of illegal immigration.


“It does make it more difficult but I'm going to continue to work with members who want to get to a solution as a opposed to doing nothing at all,” he said.

King, an Iowa conservative who has come under fire for comments about immigrants before, sparked outcry earlier this week when he alleged that, among young undocumented immigrants in the United States, “for everyone 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.”

King stood by those remarks on CNN Wednesday night.

“This isn't something made up in thin air," he said in an interview. "I've seen it with my eyes and watched the data and video that support what I say, and the longer this dialogue goes, the more the American people will understand what I'm saying is factually correct.”

Some House Republicans, led by Boehner’s top deputy Eric Cantor and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, are working on legislation that would offer a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.

But pro-reform activists have criticized Republicans for speaking favorably about young immigrants who would be eligible for a Senate-passed version of such legislation – the DREAM Act – just a month after voting for a measure that could have resulted in more deportations of those “Dreamers.”

All but six Republicans voted for a June 6 amendment to prohibit the use of funds to “finalize, implement, administer, or enforce” an administration memo that directed employees to refrain from deporting undocumented individuals who don’t pose a serious public threat, including Dreamers.

That amendment was sponsored by Rep. King.

Republicans say that the president overstepped his executive authority with that ‘deferred action’ program and that the King amendment was intended to demonstrate support for a “legislative fix” to the problem.

“Whatever people think of the impending immigration policy here in the United States, we cannot allow the executive branch to usurp the legislative authority of the United States Congress,” King said at the time. "If we allow that to happen in immigration, it could happen to anything.

Anti-immigration reform group Heritage Action key voted the King amendment, saying Obama’s actions “undercut the legislative process and the rule of law.”