Rep. Steve King, a staunch critic of illegal immigration, said Friday he’s “happy to hear” Donald Trump clarifying his immigration policy and reiterating his opposition to legal status for undocumented immigrants.
King told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” that he urged the Republican presidential nominee — whose position on illegal immigration has been called into question this week — to stick to the policies that he proposed during the GOP primary, which included building a border wall and opposing any form of legal status for undocumented immigrants.
“When I first heard this, when (Trump) said there could be a softening, that was a shift in a direction that concerned me,” said King, who supported Ted Cruz during the GOP primary. “But as I heard the interview with Anderson Cooper that came on a little bit ago, he said there wouldn’t be a legalization. I’m happy to hear that.”
“Donald Trump has pounded that drum for a year and a half, and so I’m starting to see him restore the foundation again.”
King also allowed for the possibility that undocumented immigrants who haven’t committed crimes can be deported later than those who have.
“I think that as we go down through this, we enforce the law,” King said. “We remove the people that are the worst ones, and that will keep us busy for a long time. And as we work our way through this, there will be people lost in the shadows, as others say, years down the road, and it doesn’t trouble me if they live in the shadows and we don’t find them, if they’re not running contrary to the law.
“That’s what they came to do apparently was live in the shadows,” he continued. “That’s out on the distance, perhaps in a second Trump term, not in the first one.”
And King made clear that he remained opposed to any form of legal status for undocumented immigrants. He rejected the argument that only immigrants who’ve committed crimes should be deported, because as he argued, anyone in the country illegally is by definition a criminal.
“I would say this — those who are here illegally, those who cross the border illegally — committed the crime. They are criminals. It is a crime to unlawfully enter America.”
King said any alternative policy would amount to amnesty. “I’m not going to be supporting the legalization of people that are here unlawfully, because that is amnesty,” he said.