Immigrant Groups Launch Petition Drive After Lawmaker’s 'Cantaloupe Calves’ Comment

Immigrant advocacy groups have 50,000 signatures calling for Rep. Steve King committee ouster.

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Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, joins people opposed to current immigration legislation on Monday, July 15, 2013, in Washington.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, joins people opposed to current immigration legislation on Monday, July 15, 2013, in Washington.

Petitions to remove Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, from the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security because of contentious comments he made about Latinos are seeing strong public support, with nearly 50,000 signatures asking for his ouster.

[READ: Why GOP Leaders Must Keep Steve King in Check]

Immigrant advocacy groups, DRM Action Coalition and CREDO launched their petitions after King said in a July 18 interview with Newsmax that most young immigrants eligible for citizenship under the DREAM Act are drug smugglers. The three organizations have banded together to call upon House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to remove King from the House immigration subcommittee.

"Some of them are valedictorians, and their parents brought them in," King said. "It wasn't their fault. It's true in some cases, but they aren't all valedictorians. For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

King's comments have created a backlash against the congressman, including from his GOP colleagues.

Boehner condemned King's comments in a press briefing July 25, saying there was no place in the immigration debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials.


[READ: King Detests Senate Immigration Reform, Says Latinos Won't Vote for GOP]

"Earlier this week, Rep. Steve King made comments that were, I think, deeply offensive and wrong," Boehner said. "What he said does not reflect the values of the American people, or the Republican Party."

However, advocacy groups want more than sentiments from Boehner.

"While we appreciate Rep. Boehner condemning King's remarks, words are not enough," said Campaign Director of Gabriela Garcia in a release. "If Speaker Boehner really wants to show that the GOP is committed to Latino voters, he has to do more than slap Rep. King on the wrist. He must remove King from the subcommittee."

Currently,'s petition has more than 16,000 supporters, DRM Action Coalition's has about 160 and CREDO's has more than 32,000.

Dispite growing support, these petitions are no guarantee that King will be removed.

"My statement was demonstrably factual. There was no rational inference to race," King said in an emailed statement to Whispers.

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  • UPDATE 7/30/13: This story was updated to include comment from Steve King.