PLAYER PROFILE

Steve King

Republican Congressman from Iowa

In a Republican Party that has moved far right on immigration policy under President Trump, Steve King remains a hawk among hawks. For much of his political career, King — a U.S. congressman representing Iowa since 2003 — has been an unabashed opponent of illegal and legal immigration, arguing for the U.S. to remain a European-centric society. As early as 2002, while he was still serving in the Iowa State Senate, King put forward a bill requiring schools to teach that the United States “is the unchallenged greatest nation in the world and that it has derived its strength from . . . Christianity, free enterprise capitalism and Western civilization.” He also helped pass legislation to make English the official language of Iowa and sued the state’s attorney general for making information available in languages other than English. He often speaks about “the Great Replacement,” a conspiracy theory that claims shadowy elites are working covertly to reduce white populations.

King’s long-standing views on immigration helped pave the way for many of the policy positions of the Trump administration. In a 2006 rally in Las Vegas, King called the deaths of Americans at the hands of undocumented immigrants a “slow-motion Holocaust.” At the same rally, he falsely claimed that undocumented immigrants kill 25 Americans every day, which later became a talking point for President Trump.

In 2011, King introduced the Birthright Citizenship Act “to limit birthright citizenship to a child born in the United States to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen or national, a legal permanent resident living in the United States, or an individual who is serving on active duty status in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Early in Trump’s term, King visited the Oval Office, and when the president mentioned the fundraising he had done for the congressman, King replied, “I market-tested your immigration policy for 14 years, and that ought to be worth something.”

Though King enjoyed a good relationship with President Trump until recently, the congressman was ostracized by Republican Party leadership in 2019 after incendiary remarks he made during a New York Times interview. Mr. King was quoted as saying, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Shortly thereafter King was stripped of his House committee assignments, and in June 2020 he lost his Republican primary to a candidate whom many saw as the favorite of the national party

SOURCES:

King’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    King supports maximum funding and support for border security, including barriers, more agents, and improved surveillance technology. He believes that illegal crossings are “a threat to our national security.”

  • Border Wall

    King not only supports construction and the use of military and emergency funds to get it done, but he often points out that he was talking about a border wall long before Trump was a candidate for president. “I have designed a concrete border wall proposal,” he said. “I have 35 years of experience in the earth-moving, drainage and concrete construction business, which gives me the background to design an effective wall. My concrete wall would function as both a human and vehicle barrier, inspired by the success of the concrete wall in Israel. My design is cost efficient, easy to construct and impenetrable.”

  • Detention

    King supports the expanded use of detention for undocumented migrants and asylum seekers who are working their way through the court system. On a visit to a detention facility holding children, he praised the conditions, saying it reminded him of a playground. “There's nothing cruel about this,” he said. “These are children that are cared for, with better care than they get in their home country. They get everything they need. They get a warm and comfortable place to sleep.”

  • Immigration Courts

    King opposed the Obama administration’s decision to review and apply discretion to approximately 300,000 immigration court cases in order to help provide some relief to the backlog. He said the decision put Obama “on the verge of being lawless himself.”

  • Undocumented Population

    King opposes amnesty of any kind and has been a leading voice on this front. “I believe we only encourage illegal immigration by discussing amnesty for the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants living in the United States today,” he said. “I adamantly oppose amnesty, regardless of the guise under which it is presented. Amnesty pardons immigration lawbreakers and rewards them with the objective of their crime — citizenship.”

  • ICE

    King is a staunch supporter of the agency and has introduced a bill that seeks to withdraw federal funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with officers from the agency. He has publicly supported EROs that have taken place in his home state of Iowa.

  • DACA

    King opposes any version of amnesty. He did not support the DREAM Act and he does not support making the DACA protections permanent.

  • Asylum

    King is suspicious of the asylum process and believes it encourages fraudulent claims. He supports lowering caps on refugees accepted into the country and Migration Protection Protocols (MPP).

  • Central America Policy

    King supports the suspension of aid to the region and believes that the essential issue to address is Northern Triangle countries “importing [sic] millions” of young men.

  • Visas

    King is adamant on his point that illegal immigration hurts American workers. He has introduced the Illegal Deduction Elimination Act, or IDEA Act, which would “make wages and benefits paid to illegal immigrants nondeductible for federal tax purposes.” The same bill would also make E-Verify permanent and provide "safe harbor" for employers who use this employment eligibility system. The bill would also create an information sharing system between the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Social Security Administration. King says that “by using an automated system to verify employment authorization, and by sharing this information amongst three federal agencies, false identification documents and illegal workers will be identified more easily.” He has suggested he would be open to more migrant workers if they posted a bond before entering the country.