WASHINGTON — Two of the Republicans who represent Iowa in Washington are on opposite sides of a key portion of the immigration issue.
Senator Chuck Grassley is co-sponsoring a bill which includes a path to U.S. citizenship for the 1.8-million so-called Dreamers. Congressman Steve King is solidly against the idea.
Grassley was asked if he’d try to talk to King about the important sticking point.
“I don’t think I can get him to back it and I wouldn’t expect him to,” Grassley says. “He’s not going to make me mad because he can’t back it.”
Grassley says he disagrees with — but understands — King’s viewpoint that it’s wrong to legalize someone who violated the law.
“He would take the view that maybe these kids are here because their parents brought them here but he still sees them as illegally entering the country and he’s right,” Grassley says. “He has a great respect for the rule of law as I have a great respect for the rule of law.”
The Senate bill would create a path to U.S. citizenship for those who applied for or were qualified for President Obama’s DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“The parents violated the law when they entered our country without documentation and if mom and dad picks up a baby in diapers and brings him into the country and they get through our high school, do I blame that kid coming here in diapers?” Grassley says. “I don’t see how I can.”
Grassley says people who were brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents can’t be held responsible for that action.
“It’s the compassionate thing to do for people who entered the country through no fault of their own,” Grassley says. It’s uncertain whether the bill will pass this year as Grassley says Democrats have put up a political roadblock with a filibuster.
“They’ve been crying for at least the last two or three months about, ‘We’re going to shut down government if we don’t get the DACA legalized,’ and now they’ve got a chance to legalize it and they won’t even let us start debate on the bill.”
The bill Grassley is co-sponsoring, along with Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, includes $25-billion for border security.
The legislation would also put new limits on family-based immigration and would boost the penalty for illegally re-entering the country after being deported.