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Congressman Steve King to counter Democrats' immigration reform efforts

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Regardless of whether or not Congress passes the DREAM Act after the Thanksgiving break, the ranking member of the House Immigration Subcommittee seems dead set on reforming the concept of "birthright citizenship" as one of the first GOP actions in the 112th session.

Set to take the reins of the subcommittee chairmanship in January, Rep. Steve King of Iowa will lead the efforts to deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants as a Republican-proposed solution to curbing illegal immigration. The Miami Herald reports that King's measure is supported by at least two California congressmen; namely, Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove as well as Rep. Dan Lundgren of Gold River.

According to the Herald, McClintock has pointed out that King's proposition is not novel to the United States alone. The United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, France and India all have recently enacted laws that require at least one parent or guardian to be legal resident in the country in which they reside with their children. Lundgren introduced a bill in the House in 2007 that attempted to tackle immigration in a similar way that King plans to in January. Lundgren's bill failed.

It's safe to assume that a majority of Democrats would vote against King's measure if it came up for a House vote. A majority already support the DREAM Act and would also likely support an even more comprehensive immigration reform bill if there was time to pass one during the lame duck session.  What's not safe to assume, however, is that King's bill would get a majority of support from his own Republican Party. As a whole, including their minority supporters, opposition to King's idea seems to be multilateral.

For one thing, Republicans have observed how coming out with blatant rhetoric against Hispanics has plunged the Republican Party into deep water, both in California in the case of Meg Whitman's nanny incident, as well as in Nevada where Sharron Angle came out with ads targeting solely Hispanic illegal immigrants.

In both of these states, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics turned out heavily for the Democrats.  They supported Jerry Brown by 63 percent. In Nevada, a similar result surfaced with 69 percent of Hispanics voting for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The Hispanic Republican group, Somos Republicanos, is warning that pursuing King's hardline immigration policy would also have dire consequences for Republicans come 2012, the consequences of which would likely entail the party seeing blue again after a historic win this past election cycle.  One of their main concerns is that more Hispanics would be pushed away from the Republican Party and into the folds of Independents, Libertarians, or (their worst perpetual nightmare) Democrats.

The group expressed their concerns in a letter to Republican House leadership about King assuming the leadership post as well as Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas heading up the House Judiciary Committee. 

     "It is our sincere belief that if representatives Smith and King were to become the Chairs of the House Judiciary and Subcommittee on Immigration, and if they indeed continue such insensitive rhetoric towards Hispanics, the conditions for a Republican presidential candidate to garner the necessary Electoral College delegates to win the 2012 presidency will not be possible," the letter stated.  "Most of those states with the highest number of Electoral College delegates reside in highly populated Hispanic states such as California, Texas, Florida and New York."

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