Iowans for Immigration Reform React to Steve King's 'cantaloupes'

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By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa — Hundreds of people gathered at the Capitol on Saturday to demand immigration reform from lawmakers.

Many of the people had a few things to say about the controversial statements made last week by Iowa Rep. Steve King, whose words gained national attention after he implied that most young, illegal immigrants are drug-smuggling criminals.

"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 said.

The statement has drawn fiery criticism across the board, from leaders in King's own political party to dreamers themselves, like Hector Salamanca.

"What he said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican party," said House Speaker John Boehner.

"For that representative to make those comments, [it] really showed how ignorant he is to the facts," said Salamanca.

Salamanca was joined by hundreds of supporters of immigration reform. They came from different backgrounds, but they had one message for lawmakers.

"Instead of saying stupid things about immigrants, they need to start welcoming them to our country just as they and their families were welcomed once upon a time, and treat them as human beings," said Brenda Brink, of Huxley.

"I think they don’t have a relationship or they haven’t talked with an immigrant. They just love the stereotypes," Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, pastor of Las Americas United Methodist Church, said.

King said he has sympathy like anyone else, and he's just doing what he thinks is right.

"That's why probably some of us are here. He's just inciting the rest of us to really put our feet to the street and come out and support what's right," Brink said.

The focus of the rally was to encourage everyone to contact their lawmakers to demand a humane immigration reform that offers a simpler path to citizenship without militarizing the borders.

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