As President Obama prepares to announce the steps that he will take to provide temporary deportation relief for some undocumented immigrants, it’s important to remember why he’s taking this step. It’s not because Obama and Democrats refuse to work with Republicans to address pressing immigration problems. It’s because a small but influential segment of the Republican caucus refuses to do anything to fix the immigration system.
Today, we at People For the American Way joined with American Bridge to release a video highlighting the kind of rhetoric from congressional Republicans that has sunk any kind of attempt at bipartisan immigration reform.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily today, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, compared the congressional GOP’s standoff with President Obama over immigration reform to the fight against ISIS, saying that the Republican caucus should be prepared to “use all the constitutional means at our disposal” and not take a government shutdown or impeachment proceedings off the table.”
“The president is holding a right hostage to an ultimatum,” he said. “We have a right to secure borders, we have a right to demand and expect that our president enforce the law, but he’s giving us an ultimatum that Congress can either pass amnesty or he’s going to commit it by a constitutional violation.”
“I think that we can’t take cutting off funding off the table,” he continued. “It’s about the equivalent of saying in the fight against ISIS that there will be no boots on the ground. Republicans should not make those kind of mistakes that the president has made in his messaging to ISIS. So that means that we should use all the constitutional means at our disposal.”
He added that “I want to do the minimum possible to restore the constitution,” which could include “cutting off the funding,” passing a motion to censure the president, or impeachment, which he called “the last resort, not one that I favor at all.”
Rep. Steve King thinks that if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president, her “fingernails on the chalkboard” voice will make her vulnerable in the Iowa caucuses.
The Iowa Republican told Steve Malzberg today that there is a “lack of excitement” for a Clinton candidacy and that the former secretary of state’s fellow Democrats should challenge her because her “screechy voice” will “play over and over again in Iowa.”
In an interview this week with Rick Santorum, who was guest-hosting Steve Deace’s radio program, Rep. Steve King of Iowa said that if President Obama takes executive action to grant deportation relief to some immigrants, he may push for Congress to shut down the government or impeach President Obama in order to prevent the country from “descending abruptly into an abyss that we have never seen in the history of this country.”
King said that if the president were to issue such an order, he would advocate for Congress to only pass a spending bill funding the government until January “so that we could address this thing by shutting off the funding.”
“I don’t want to go down the path that would bring us to where the confrontation between Congress and Bill Clinton in 1998, but neither would I take it off the table,” King said, referring to impeachment. He then compared his strategy for confronting Obama with the president’s national security policy: “The president has said some things like no boots on the ground and the war in Afghanistan is over at the end of 2014. You don’t make those kinds of predictions and you don’t unilaterally disarm. You use all the constitutional tools at our disposal. ”
“Our constitution will be torn asunder if we let the president do this,” King continued.
“What he’s contemplating doing is the equivalent of standing up in front of America, opening up the Constitution, taking ahold of Article 1 — all of the congressional legislative authority — tearing that out and putting it in his shirt pocket and saying, ‘I’ll do the lawmaking in this country, it’s not your business, Congress.’ If we let that happen, our constitutional republic is descending abruptly into an abyss that we have never seen in the history of this country.”
As the American Immigration Council has documented, every president since Eisenhower has used executive authority to grant “temporary immigration relief to one or more groups in need of assistance.”
In an interview with an Iowa newspaper this week, Rep. Steve King suggested that gay people as well as those who are divorced and cohabiting will have unfavorable prospects in the afterlife, saying, “I’ll just say that what was a sin 2,000 years ago is a sin today, and people that were condemned to hell 2,000 years ago, I don’t expect to meet them should I make it to Heaven.”
Similar dire warnings about the federal hate crimes law that was passed five years ago today have proven to be utterly false.
The apocalyptic rhetoric is a reaction to the advances in LGBT rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in dozens of states and the passage of non-discrimination ordinances in municipalities across the country. Along with categories such as race, gender, religion, age and ability, more localities are recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as traits warranting protection from discrimination in the public domain.
As anti-gay politicians lose in the courts, Congress, state houses, town halls, and perhaps most importantly, at the ballot box, many have taken to conflating political defeat with a loss of rights and liberty. Only by depriving other people of their rights, so they claim, can conservatives and people of faith in this nation truly be free.
This month, many Republicans latched onto a complicated legal case in Houston to justify their hyperbolic warnings about impending doom for Christians in America. After Houston passed an equal rights ordinance this year, a pastor-led group tried — and failed — to collect enough valid petition signatures to force a referendum on repealing the ordinance. When a group of conservative activists and pastors filed a lawsuit demanding that officials accept the invalid petitions, pro-bono attorneys working for the city subpoenaed several pastors’ communications, including sermons, on petition collecting and related issues like homosexuality as part of the discovery process.
While many groups from the left and right alike called out the subpoenas as overly broad and intrusive, the Religious Right cited the legal move as proof that pastors will be, as the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody put it, “hauled off to jail for a hate crimes because they are speaking for traditional marriage.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who in 2012 warned that America was “at the edge of a precipice” and would soon see non-existent “hate speech” laws used “against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages [or] who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage,” agreed with Brody’s assessment.
(In a similar episode this month, the owners of a for-profit wedding chapel business filed a lawsuit against their hometown over a nondiscrimination ordinance, arguing that city officials have threatened them with prosecution and jail time for denying service to same-sex couples — even though officials haven’t pursued any legal action against the couple.)
We’ve seen this movie before. In 2007, members of a group called Repent America were charged after disrupting a gay pride event and refusing to abide by police orders. The way conservatives tell the story, godly missionaries were punished by law enforcement for exercising their First Amendment rights and “sharing the gospel,” but as court records show, the group tried to disturb the peace and protest inside an event without a permit.
In fact, if Religious Right were correct in their warnings, America should have experienced a wave of arrests targeting pastors, church-goers and Republicans following the passage of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Predictions about the criminalization of the Bible, pastors locked in jail cells and concentration camps for Christians never came true, mainly because these prophecies had no basis in reality.
The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Law was passed by Congress five years ago today, and so far, the far-right’s twisted and baseless claims about the law have all been proven false. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped making the exact same discredited arguments five years after the bill’s passage:
1.End of Free Speech
Despite the hate crimes law’s provision making clear that it is applicable only to cases of violent crime and nothing “shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs,” Religious Right activists and their allies in the GOP nonetheless predicted that the 2009 law would bring free speech to an end.
“Gay activists will use it against preachers who present the Biblical view of homosexuality,” Rick Scarborough said at the time. “The federal hate crimes law doesn’t target crime, but free speech.” He also warned that the law’s passage would “criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality,” telling members of his group, Vision America, that he may face arrest for “speaking out against sexual deviancy.”
Scarborough, a Texas anti-gay pastor and political organizer close to Ted Cruz, hasn’t backed down from his claims even years after the law has gone into effect. At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Scarborough declared that the “infidels” in the Obama administration are “hell-bent on silencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Christians wouldn’t rise up against the attacks, he feared, “until a bunch of us are thrown into concentration camps.”
The Traditional Values Coalition went as far as to claim that the hate crimes law would imprison Jesus Christ.
“I believe that ‘hate crimes’ is the most dangerous bill in America, it is precisely what they are using to silence Christians around the world,” Janet Porter, a Religious Right activist with the group Faith 2 Action, said in an interview the year before the bill was passed. “How much of a stretch is it, really, to say that because I would say to you homosexuality is a sin or it’s dangerous behavior, before that speech alone is worthy of jail time? And that’s what we’re facing.” Porter told a Washington, D.C., rally shortly after the law was passed that it “criminalizes Christianity” and “sends pastors to prison for biblical positions and speech.”
In an 2009 email message with the subject line, “The Senate Will Vote To Silence You!,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that “what ‘hate crimes’ legislation does is lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.”
He also alleged that the law would “gag people of faith and conviction who disagree with the homosexual agenda” and that it “punishes a person’s beliefs — part of the Left's intolerant agenda to silence the voice of Christians and Conservatives in America and eliminate moral restraint.”
“If federal thought crimes laws are passed, your right to share politically incorrect parts of your Christian faith could become a federal crime,” Perkins warned. At another conservative event, Perkins said hate crimes laws will curtail freedom and breed “chaos in America.”
Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Save America even encouraged opposition to the law by alleging that “there is a direct connection between the sins and crimes of abortion and the sodomite agenda and the Islamic terrorism that threatens our nation.”
One group of GOP and Religious Right figures claimed the law would be “a savage and perhaps fatal blow to First Amendment freedom of expression.”
E.W. Jackson, a Virginia pastor and GOP politician, told a conservative rally that the law “represents a virulent strain of anti-Christian bigotry and hatred” that is “another step in the process of robbing all Americans of the very freedoms the founding fathers pledged their lives for and the civil rights martyrs gave their lives for.”
Ohio-based televangelist Rod Parsley, best known for his work supporting George W. Bush’s re-election campaign and the passage of his state’s gay marriage ban, said that the hate crimes law would force him out of the pulpit.
“This deceptive ploy of liberal, homosexual agenda begins to lose its allure once you pull the mask back and take a closer look,” Parsley said. “The legislation that’s before our United States senators right now extends to speech and can punish people not for their actions but for their culturally incorrect thoughts. This legislation could become law, and you and I could find ourselves forbidden to speak from God’s word right here in America. I could no longer share my heart with you on critical issues, such as this, through the medium of television, or even in the pulpit of my own church.”
We can report that despite Parsley’s grim predictions, he is still very much “sharing his heart” as a preacher.
2.Outlawing the Bible
One group of Michigan pastors, joined by local Republican politician and American Family Association state chairman Gary Glenn, filed an unsuccessful legal challenge against the hate crimes law soon after it was enacted. The group’s legal representative, the conservative Thomas More Law Center, contended that “the sole purpose” of the law was “to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.”
Pastor Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ also offered an ominous warning: “If preaching the Bible is now against the law, then let us be arrested.” One WorldNetDaily commentator said the law would “crack down” on Christians for “reading the Bible.”
“Christianity Is Now Outlawed,” declared the Christian Seniors Association, a front group of the Traditional Values Coalition, in a fundraising letter following the law’s passage. “Did you know that the new Hate Crimes Act that President Obama signed into law makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature?’” the letter continued.
“Most Christians might as well rip the pages which condemn homosexuality right out of their Bibles because this bill will make it illegal to publicly express the dictates of their religious beliefs,” said Andrea Lafferty of the TVC. “The ultimate objective of this legislation is to claim that ‘hate speech’ — criticism of homosexuality — incites individuals to violence and must be suppressed and punished. This will violate the First Amendment rights of any person or group that opposes the normalization of homosexuality in our culture.”
In the paranoid conservative alternate reality, pedophilia has been legal for five years now thanks to the updated federal hate crimes law.
“The main purpose of this ‘hate crimes’ legislation is to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity,’ ‘either actual or perceived,’ as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations: zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?” asked televangelist Pat Robertson.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, similarly charged: “We have a record roll call vote that shows every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voting to have pedophiles protected.”
King’s colleague Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, went one step further and said that as a result of the hate crimes law, courts would “have to strike any laws against bestiality” along with laws targeting “pedophiles or necrophiliacs.” Gohmert went on to warn that the law would effectively turn the U.S. into Nazi Germany.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, for his part, predicted that the law would extend legal protections to “bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality.”
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center claimed the law “elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”
Porter dubbed the law the “Pedophile Protection Act,” “summarizing” the law by completely making things up: “Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a homosexual, transgendered [sic], cross-dresser or exhibitionist could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the homosexual agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And pedophiles and other sexual deviants would enjoy an elevated level of protection, while children, seniors, veterans and churches would not.”
Pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia are still against the law and such laws have not been affected by the Hate Crimes Act, while declining “an unwelcome advance of a homosexual” is still very much legal. However, we are still waiting with bated breath for Porter’s lawsuit detailing how she was forced and legally bound to succumb to the charms of a homosexual enticer.
Can the Religious Right Be Trusted?
The many frantic, unfounded warnings about the perils the 2009 Hate Crimes Act are just one example of anti-gay activists’ penchant for manufacturing myths and brazenly distorting cases of supposed persecution.
Apocalyptic warnings and blatantly dishonest remarks have always been characteristic of the Religious Right's crusade against LGBT rights and we can expect such activists to continue to engage in such shameless fear mongering and misinformation before the 2014 election.
But, like the Religious Right’s warnings about the effects of the 2009 Hate Crimes Act, these dire predictions should be taken with a heavy dose of salt.
In an interviewwith Newsmax today, Rep. Steve King warned that an executive action by President Obama providing deportation relief for some undocumented immigrants living in the United States would perhaps irrevocably destroy “our constitutional republic” by turning the United States into a “lawless third-world nation” and Obama into a “king.”
“If the American people take that sitting down or lying down, then our constitutional republic has been destroyed to the point where putting it back together again in our lifetime looks to me like it’s a very difficult task,” he warned, adding that anti-immigrant demonstrators should “surround the White House” and “protest outside the gates of the president’s residence until he lets go of this unconstitutional action.”
The Iowa Republican added that if Obama were to take executive action, he would force a government shutdown and move to impeach the president.
“We know there is the ‘I-word’ in the Constitution that none of us want to say or act on but I would have never had said there will be no boots on the ground, so in this context, everything is on the table because our republic is on the table, our constitutional republic is on the table,” he said.
Donald Trump travelled to Iowa to campaign for Rep. Steve King this past weekend, and their joint press conference was just about as ridiculous as you might imagine.
The two heaped praise on one another, with Trump calling King “a special guy” and “a smart person with really the right views on almost everything” and King gushing that “time after time, when the hand of Donald Trump reached out and touched something, it turned into something good for America.”
And they tried to outdo each other with criticism of President Obama, as Trump evaded questions about his own plans to run for president while blaming Obama for such offenses as turning major U.S. airports into “third-world airports.”
But it was King who really took the opportunity to shine. In video captured by the Iowa Republican, King went on a long tirade claiming that America is becoming “a third-world country” because of “the things that are coming at us from across the border,” including illegal drugs, Central American children of “prime gang recruitment age,” ISIS, a childhood respiratory illness that has spread in recent weeks, and the Ebola virus.
The ISIS and respiratory disease claims are based on unsubstantiated reports in the right-wing media, while there is absolutely no link between border enforcement and Ebola or the Oklahoma beheading incident.
Later, in response to a question about President Obama’s supposed penchant for golf, King mused on how President Obama wants “to treat people in Africa as if they were American citizens.”
“What is his vision for this country?” he asked. “He must think now that he’s president of the world, that he’s going to treat people in Africa as if they were American citizens and somehow we can’t define this American sovereignty or American citizenship.”
He went on to accuse the president of causing racial division in America — “he has pitted people against each other down the lines of divisions that are God-given characteristics” — while touting his own credentials as a unifier:
“I want to pull us all together under those principles to build America. That’s freedom of speech, religion, the press, the right to keep and bear arms — whether that’s to pick up a shotgun and shoot a pheasant or pick up a seven iron and discipline your husband.”
After lashing out at President Obama’s fondness for golf, claiming that the president shows “a level of arrogance that’s absolutely disgusting,” Trump said that he was attracted to King’s hardline anti-immigrant stance.
“He’s opposed to amnesty, secure the border, which is another one that’s like a no-brainer that I don’t understand, there are certain things you don’t even understand how the other side can fight it and yet there are people out there, believe it or not, that don’t want to secure our border,” he said. “Now especially with Ebola, how about when that starts happening down in that area and people just walk into the country.”
In an interview with Chuck Todd, Obama pinned the delay on Americans’ reactions to the thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America fleeing to the southern border this summer: “This problem with unaccompanied children that we saw a couple weeks ago, where you had from Central America a surge of kids who are showing up at the border, got a lot of attention. And a lot of Americans started thinking, 'We've got this immigration crisis on our hands.’”
Obama appears to have been referring to the anti-immigrant movement’s success at pushing two big lies about the unaccompanied minors: first, that they illustrated lax border enforcement and second, that they were lured by Obama's immigration policies.
The first big lie, that the unaccompanied minors exhibited weakness of border enforcement, was far from the truth. In fact, most of the unaccompanied minors sought out border patrol officials in an effort to seek asylum.
The second big lie was the Right’s effort to tie the unaccompanied minors to President Obama’s executive order deferring deportation for some DREAMers. House Republicans promoted this myth when they voted to repeal the deportation relief for DREAMers as a response to the unaccompanied minors crisis. But, as we wrote at the time, that argument is based on anti-immigrant fearmongering, not on fact:
Anti-immigrant advocates also cite rumors among migrants that those who come to the United States are given a “permiso,” or permit, to stay. But storieson thisrumormake clear that it stems from notices to appear in court that are given to some undocumented immigrants who are allowed to stay in the country while their cases are pending, and has nothing to do with the DREAM Act or DACA.
On Saturday, Phyllis Schlafly hosted a very special 25th anniversary edition of “Eagle Forum Live,” in which she received laudatory messages from a number of fans, including Iowa Republican congressman Steve King.
King called in to congratulate Schlafly on her organization’s “wonderful success” and to tell her that he carries “in my jacket pocket every day” a copy of her 1964 book “A Choice Not An Echo”…right next to his Bible.
Schlafly returned the praise, saying, “We try to get good people like Steve King situated in Congress, where they can keep us faithful to the Constitution.”
Rep. Steve King appeared on Newsmax TV yesterday, where host J.D. Hayworth asked him about the rising tensions in Ferguson, Missouri and the call by members of the Congressional Black Caucus for the Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation because of concerns about a history of racial profiling by the local police department.
King, of course, saw no need for such an investigation, claiming that these members of the CBC are basically "saying don't enforce the law," linking the issue to the sporadic looting and vandalism that has taken place by asserting that there is no need to racially profile those responsible for those actions because they are all black.
"This idea of no racial profiling," King said, "I've seen the video. It looks to me like you don't need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that."
"I just reject race-based politics, identity politics" King concluded. "I think we're all God's children. We all should be held to the same standards and the same level of behavior":
Rep. Steve King called into Glenn Beck's radio program this morning to discuss his confrontation last week with advocates of immigration reform. During the interview, King told Beck that it is vitally important for House Republicans to rein in President Obama for the remainder of his term so that he cannot destroy America before this nation can elect a new president "whom God will use to restore the soul of America."
Saying that Republicans cannot "unilaterally disarm" by taking the threat of impeachment off the table, King declared that the GOP must work to "restrain this president so that he doesn't do serious destructive damage to our constitution" in order to allow this nation to "limp our way through his terms of office."
After Obama has been restrained, the GOP can then work on "identifying, lifting up, and raising up, and nominating, and electing the next President of the United States whom God will use to restore the soul of America."
"If we fall short in that," King warned, "in my lifetime, I don't expect to see this country put back on its rails again":
In an interview with Reason posted yesterday, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, explicitly denied that Rep. Steve King is running the GOP’s policy on immigration and took issue with the party’s Nativist image.
“He does not — his position does not reflect the broad view of Republicans,” she said of King.
That’s interesting, since just last week the House GOP passed a draconian immigration bill crafted by none other than Steve King. King even called one of the bill’s key provisions “a mirror of what I’ve done the last two years here in this Congress.”
While Reason notes that the McMorris Rodgers interview was conducted in July, back in June House Republicans passed an amendment authored by King to gut the DACA program giving temporary relief to Dreamers.
A Dreamer activist had an encounter with Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Steve King at a fundraiser for King in Iowa last night, and the reactions of the two GOP leaders exemplified the current state of the Republican Party: one doubled down on his extremist rhetoric while the other fled the scene.
Andiola offered King — the anti-immigrantfanatic who is frequently allowed to shape the House GOP’s immigration policy — her DACA card, the document from the program which allows Dreamers to stay in the country that King has led the fight to defund.
“If you are trying to kill DACA, I want to give you the opportunity to rip my DACA card,” she told King, who declined to destroy her card.
King also denied making comments alleging that “for every [Dreamer] who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred out there who they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
Grabbing her wrist, King said, “You are very good at English. You can understand the English language so don’t act like you don’t because you are saying something that is not true.”
He then repeatedly asked Andiola if she was a drug smuggler and if she “understands the English language,” while also asking questions about her mother.
Following the encounter, King said Dreamer activists “want to turn America into a third world country.”