Steve King: There are ‘awfully bad people’ among DREAMer population

In reality, these DREAMers go through a lengthy, rigorous vetting process.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) claimed Thursday that there are “awfully bad people” among the DREAMer population — people brought to the country as children who are protected under President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

“Among all of these DREAMers, there are some awfully bad people,” King said in an interview with CNN host Alisyn Camerota. “Some of these DREAMers go on to the age of 37 or 38 or maybe older, and that’s if they tell the truth.”

When pressed to give an example of “awfully bad” DREAMers, King pointed to drug traffickers “hauling an average of about 65 pounds” of marijuana across the Texas border, saying they would qualify for Obama’s executive action known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which grants temporary deportation relief and work authorization.

“I’ve been down there and helped arrest people that are smuggling drugs in,” King said. “I have watched as these packs of marijuana are on the backs of young men that are walking across the border. They’re hauling an average of about 65 pounds. Some of them every day they take another load. They would qualify too.”

In reality, it’s unlikely that drug traffickers crossing the border on a daily basis could qualify for DACA at all. Applicants must undergo a long process that includes providing years of documentation, undergoing background checks, and submitting biometric data. They must also ensure that they entered the country before June 15, 2007 and have not left the country without permission since then.

King’s hard-line approach on immigration — while not new — was in response to the softened rhetoric that President-elect Donald Trump appeared to take during an interview published Wednesday regarding DREAMers.

“They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here,” Trump told Time magazine. “Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Trump’s rhetoric may not mean much, however. The president-elect made campaign promises to end the DACA initiative within his first 100 days in office. His advisers include anti-immigrant politicians like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has called for extreme vetting of immigrants from majority-Muslim countries and the creation of a Muslim registry. Another Trump adviser, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), cracked down hard on undocumented immigrants when he was mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. And this week, Trump selected retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who favors the continuation of private, for-profit immigration detention centers, to run the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.