Gingrich: Steve King's Immigration Remarks 'Harmful to Conservatives'

Thursday, 01 Aug 2013 02:34 PM

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has condemned Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King's characterization of children of illegal immigrants as drug smugglers, saying such "unfortunate" statements "are harmful to the conservative movement" and the Republican Party.

"I don't know why he said it. I think it's just wrong," the Georgia Republican and former presidential candidate said Thursday in an interview with Newsmax TV. "The fact is, first of all, for young people, most of them came in because their parents brought them here. Forty percent of the people here illegally came with legal visas. [They] crossed the border legally; they just didn't go home when their visa ran out."

Gingrich's comments came in response to another Newsmax interview in which King said that for every young "valedictorian" immigrant brought into the country by their parents, another 100 had entered the country by smuggling drugs.

"They aren't all valedictorians. They weren't all brought in by their parents," he told Newsmax on July 18.

"For every one 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," King said, raising concerns that "those people would be legalized" under proposals giving legal status to the children of illegal immigrants.

Gingrich called King's remarks "both factually wrong and deeply insulting."

"It's unfortunate when we get into these emotion-laden comments that are harmful to the conservative movement and harmful to the Republican Party. And I think he should be much more careful about what he says," Gingrich said.

Asked if King should apologize, Gingrich replied, "I don't know what he did. He clearly was wrong. And he should admit that he was wrong. But that's something he's got to decide in his own conscience."

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