In the past few weeks, conservative anxiety over the Schumer-Rubio immigration deal has grown as details of the legislation emerge. Despite assurances from Sen. Marco Rubio and other GOP negotiators that the deal would “fix” illegal immigration by finally providing real border security, the actual impact of the legislation is far less than that. On Wednesday, Rep. Steve King provided an important forum for conservative activists to voice their dissatisfaction with the Schumer-Rubio bill. By his initiative, King helped shape the national dialogue.
On Wednesday, Rep. Steve King, along with Rep. Louie Gohmert and other members of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, hosted a nearly day-long discussion of immigration reform. With just a few days notice, hundreds of activists showed up to hear remarks from King, Gohmert and several member of Congress. In the afternoon, Glenn Beck and other conservative pundits explained the failings of the legislation currently on the Senate floor.
While most of the DC GOP establishment has rushed to endorse an obviously flawed Senate bill, Rep. King had the courage of his convictions to say “Stop.” He and his colleagues detailed that not only would the Senate bill do nothing to stem illegal immigration, it would make the current legal immigration system worse, by giving the Executive Branch enormous latitude to rewrite the law at will.
The Schumer-Rubio immigration bill has a fundamental, existential flaw. It trades the certainty of immediate amnesty for the promise of better border security in the future. In many ways, it mirrors the 1986 Amnesty law, which also provided immediate legalization with a promise of future enforcement. The promise of enforcement, of course, was never fulfilled.
Still, the entire GOP establishment has tried to force conservatives to accept the false choice of supporting Schumer-Rubio or being tagged as opponents of true immigration reform. King, on his own initiative, galvanized the anxiety in the grass roots and focused it in a way that could result in meaningful reform.
King was working in the House Judiciary Committee until 2am on legislation that would strengthen immigration enforcement. Just hours before his event convened on the Hill. Over the coming days, the Committee will continue work on specific pieces of legislation that address each component of our immigration system. It may not be as sexy as a 1,000+ page “comprehensive” piece of legislation, but it is how real legislating is supposed to happen.
Just as a nearly day-long discussion of immigration reform is how a real national dialogue is supposed to happen. It is ironic that, in America, it took a King to give us the debate we deserve.