From the crazy press release files:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Steve King, the highest ranking Republican on the House Immigration Subcommittee, today made the following statement in response to comments House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently made before a group of legal and illegal immigrants. Pelosi said that enforcement of current immigration law is "un-American."
"It is no surprise that Speaker Pelosi believes our current immigration laws are ‘un-American,’" King said. "Her liberal San Francisco values do not reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support enforcement of our immigration laws, border security and no amnesty for illegal immigrants. Enforcement actions against employers hiring illegal workers are a step in the right direction, especially in these trying economic times. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates 7 million jobs in this country are held by illegal immigrants. I would suggest it is un-American to allow illegal immigrants to hold jobs while so many American citizens are out of work."
"San Francisco values" blah blah blah. But what's this about "the overwhelming majority of Americans who support enforcement of our immigration laws, border security and no amnesty for illegal immigrants"? Where, oh where does King get off saying that, considering that there's absolutely no evidence that this is the case?
There hasn't been much polling on a nationwide basis on this issue lately, but what we have suggests nothing of the sort.
Gallup, 6/5-7/6, 2008:
"Thinking now about immigrants -- that is, people who come from other countries to live here in the United States: In your view, should immigration be kept at its present level, increased or decreased?"
Present level 39
CNN, 6-26-29, 2008
Now thinking about immigration, would you favor or oppose building a fence along 700 miles of the border with Mexico?
ABC, 12/16-19, 2007
Would you support or oppose a program giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements?
LA Times/Bloomberg, 11/30-12/3, 2007
One proposal that has been discussed in Congress would allow illegal immigrants who have been living and working in the United States for a number of years, and who do not have a criminal record, to start on a path to citizenship by registering that they are in the country, paying a fine, getting fingerprinted, and learning English, among other requirements. Do you support or oppose this, or haven't you heard enough about it to say?
CNN, 6/22-24, 2007
As you may know, the U.S. Senate has been considering a bill to change the way the government handles the issue of illegal immigration. Based on what you have read or heard about all the proposals in the Senate immigration bill, do you favor or oppose that bill?" If oppose: "Do you oppose the Senate immigration bill MOSTLY because you think it goes too far toward helping illegal immigrants, or MOSTLY because it does not go far enough toward helping illegal immigrants?
Oppose, Goes too far 28
Oppose, Doesn't go far enough 15
And so on. Follow the link to see ALL polling on the immigration issue the last few years. There's no cherry picking here.
The wording of the poll question has a great deal to do with how the results come out, but at worst, the nation is split on the issue, at best, the comprehensive immigration reform crowd has a clear edge. And when polling those most affected by the issue -- border state Americans -- the numbers are solidly in favor of comprehensive immigration reform:
Bendixen & Associates (PDF) for NDN. 8/16-14, 2008. MoE 4%
The federal government would grant illegal immigrants with conditional legal status permanent residency and a path to citizenship if they maintain a strong employment record, undergo a background check, learn basic English, pay any back taxes and $2,000 in fines and fees.
All voters who said this was an "excellent" or "good proposal":
Florida 73 84
Colorado 68 74
New Mexico 69 68
Nevada 72 80
Would you support or oppose this comprehensive immigration reform package?
Florida 67 25
Colorado 69 21
New Mexico 66 23
Nevada 67 25
So, um, does that mean that Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada all subscribe to "liberal San Francisco values"? (I hope so, since the values of entrepreneurship, tolerance, innovation, and conservation are all pretty cool values.)
I know conservatives like Steve King desperately cling to the notion that America thinks like them and hate San Francisco. But the reality is much different. Some issues are contentious and split the public along bipartisan lines, and immigration is certainly one of them. But to pretend that "the overwhelming majority of Americans" support a xenophobic Minute Man approach to immigration is ludicrous.