Steve King is right about the KIDS Act

Tom Tancredo Former Congressman
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Steve King has provoked the wrath of both the Democratic and Republican establishments over his statements about a proposed GOP bill that hasn’t even been formally introduced yet, the “KIDS Act.” The firestorm over King’s comments illustrates why honest talk about the consequences of another amnesty bill is so rare.

Like the DREAM Act, which Congress voted down on many occasions, the KIDS Act purports to only help the most sympathetic illegal immigrants, those whose parents brought them here as children. What critics do not want discussed is that such bills also grant amnesty to millions of others not so easily characterized as model citizens-in-waiting.

Proponents of these bills always trot out a few young illegal aliens who came to America as infants and later became high school valedictorians. That is supposed to suggest that most of, if not all, of the millions of illegal aliens who would be awarded the amnesty are just like those most sympathetic cases.

Representative King poked a hole in that pretty pink balloon, and for that, he is being attacked.

King stated that while “some of them are valedictorians — and their parents brought them in. It wasn’t their fault. It’s true in some cases, but they aren’t all valedictorians. They weren’t all brought in by their parents. For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”

As expected, the perpetually offended Democrats immediately expressed their outrage over King’s remarks. Obama’s press secretary called them “extremely unfortunate”, and, always eager to help Republicans win more votes, noted “They certainly don’t help any efforts by Republicans to improve their standing among Hispanic Americans.”

The GOP House Leadership, which is pushing this misguided bill, also attacked King. Eric Cantor said the comments were “inexcusable” and John Boehner said he used “hateful language.”

U.S. News and World Report characterized King as saying that “most immigrants were drug smugglers,” which is not the case. King was referring solely to young illegal aliens not all “immigrants.” Nor did King suggest most illegal aliens are drug smugglers. King said that far more entered the country as drug smugglers than ever became valedictorians, which is demonstrably true.

Since illegal aliens are by definition “undocumented” and neither the Obama administration nor anyone else is doing a statistical profile on their border-crossings, we have no way of knowing if King’s drug-smuggler to valedictorian ratio is correct. However, he did not make the claim out of thin air.

It has been common knowledge for a decade that both people smuggling and drug smuggling are controlled by the same Mexican drug cartels. The cartels’ use of thousands of teenagers and young adults to carry loads of marijuana across the border is well known and well documented. Illegals seeking to cross the southwest border are routinely required to carry drugs across the border as a partial payment of the $1500 price for the crossing.

Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle has pointed to an article by Lourdes Medrano entitled, “Along key stretch of US-Mexico border, more kids running drugs,” published just last week in the Christian Science Monitor. Medrano reports that “In 2012, 244 minors faced drug-smuggling charges in the Tucson sector.”

Many other news stories in the last two years haven noted the rise of adolescent drug smuggling. Boyle points to a Fox News Latino piece which noted that “Children between the ages of 11 and 17 are being recruited by Mexico’s drug cartels to smuggle narcotics and work as spies, the Mexican press reported Sunday, citing information from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.”

Of course, not all of these young smugglers are illegal aliens. Fox News Latino noted that, “The number of children from the United States being recruited by the cartels has risen since the second half of 2011 because they enjoy the benefit of citizenship.” It is a big problem in border towns like Douglas and Nogales, Arizona, where high school students are recruited to smuggle drugs because, as citizens, they can leave and reenter the U.S. easily.

The fact that there were nearly 400 minors arrested in just one of the eight border sectors in the last 18 months — to say nothing of the young smugglers who have avoided detection — suggests that King’s ratio of smugglers to valedictorians may be in the right ballpark.

Rep. King was not saying or suggesting that the majority of illegal aliens who would qualify for the “Dream Act” or “KIDS Act” amnesty are drug smugglers. What he suggested is that a law written so broadly that it gives benefits to two to four million illegal aliens merely because they entered the country as teenagers will inevitably give those benefits to hundreds of of thousands of individuals who first entered our country as drug smugglers.

If House Speaker Boehner doesn’t want any public discussion of that fact, he should offer a better solution to the problem, not attack the messenger.