EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Steve King Is ‘Very Disappointed’ About Trump’s Inaction On Amnesty

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Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King is disappointed with the Trump administration due to inaction on former President Obama’s executive amnesties.

The immigration hawk told The Daily Caller Thursday that he’s even starting to “wonder” if he and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly “may not share opinions on the rule of law” when it comes to amnesty.

President Donald Trump ran for president calling for strict immigration enforcement and said he would immediately end amnesty programs for illegal immigrants. However, hundreds of people receive amnesty every day.

King told TheDC that he is “very disappointed on the lack of action” from the White House on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). Over 750,000 people have received amnesty from DACA since 2012 and implementation by DAPA was held up by a court decision.

Trump could end DACA and DAPA through an executive order, and said on the campaign trail he would “immediately terminate” them. Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta previously told TheDC that he wasn’t worried about Trump’s inaction so far on the issue, but King said “every day this has been a violation of the Constitution.”

The Iowa congressman said he brought it up with Trump three weeks ago and spoke to him about ending the amnesty programs. However, he has no confirmation of anything in the works. King said that “everyday they are complicit it is harder to resolve,” adding, “is [Trump] going to force us to go back to court again?”

Trump’s rhetoric about amnesty since taking office has been noticeably soft. He said at a February press conference that “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me.” Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has defended Trump possibly letting DACA recipients, also known as DREAMers stay, saying that deporting “kids” wouldn’t reflect well on the White House.

But 31-year-olds could have received DACA in 2012. King wrote in a recent op-ed that deported DREAMers could go home and help their countries of origin much like members of the Peace Corps.

The Iowa congressman also spoke to TheDC about his worries that Congress won’t fulfill other parts of Trump’s immigration agenda.

The president signed executive orders to temporarily halt refugee admittance, but these have been blocked by federal judges, so over 10,000 refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since Trump was inaugurated.

Rep. King told TheDC that he has not had “nearly enough” discussion with congressional leadership to advance legislation that would implement Trump’s agenda on refugees.

King is a co-sponsor of H.R. 80, which was introduced before Trump took office. This legislation would halt refugee resettlement until Congress passes a joint-resolution allowing it. The Iowa congressman said that he met with his staff this week to discuss putting forward new legislation that would address the admittance of refugees.

The Hill reported Sunday that House Republican leadership is aiming to push back funding for the border wall to avoid a government shutdown, and The Washington Post reported Wednesday that DHS has laid out plans to ramp up immigration enforcement — they just need more funding.

The Iowa Republican told TheDC he’s “not too confident” that Congress will appropriate the proper amount of funds needed for immigration enforcement. The wall is estimated to cost around $20 billion, and Trump’s call to hire 5,000 new Customs and Border Protection agents and 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents could cost $3 billion, according to a DHS assessment.

Rep. King said not building the wall would be a “major failure” for Congress and the Trump administration as they need to respond “to the American people.” “We have an obligation to get those resources in place so the president can fulfill his campaign promise,” King said.

He added that he would label people against the funding as wanting Trump to “fail.”

The congressman said eventually there will be funding for the wall, it’s just a matter of when. King said, “clearly some in our leadership aren’t as enthusiastic about this as I am.”