Iowa Republican Steve King has tweeted just ahead of the State of the Union address and he has created a new slur for immigrants by using the word “deportable” to refer to the president’s guest. The tweet lashes out at the president for having Ana Zamora, a child of immigrants who has lived in the United States all her life and was granted the legal right to stay in the country after Obama’s executive order on immigration from late last year. She was chosen to sit with the First Lady Michelle Obama after sending a thank you letter for the decision. King, a Republican with strong views on immigration and “amnesty,” was apparently irritated enough by Zamora’s presence to tweet about it just ahead of the speech.
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 20, 2015
King’s tweet was particularly insulting to Zamora by using the term “deportable” to describe her. Used as a denigrating noun, it is quite insulting, especially since Zamora is not eligible for deportation. The President’s November executive order gives her the legal basis to remain in the country where she grew up, the only country she has ever known. The child of immigrants, her story is a common one for many people who have not been considered to have legal immigration status. The importance for the president’s order to her life and the lives of others cannot be over estimated.
Besides the new slur that King has apparently just made up, the tweet also contains the phrase “prosecutorial discretion,” a legal term with a lot of importance for that executive order. According to a legal dictionary, prosecutorial discretion is that decision making discretion which government’s possess about whether to prosecute or stay a charge against someone. This was a hot topic at the time the executive order was given, with many Republicans saying that it had no bearing on the decision.
A National Review article titled “No, ‘Prosecutorial Discretion’ Does Not Justify Obama’s Lawless Amnesty” adequately summarizes the view that many Republicans, including King, have taken on the decision. The article argues that the president’s executive order on immigration is evidence that “we have supplanted the Constitution with a monarchy” and that the prosecutorial discretion that President Obama used is unconstitutional. This is the view that King is hearkening to in his tweet.
The fact of the matter is, however, that the president’s executive order was well within his constitutional limits. No monarchy was created and Zamora’s presence in the chamber for this speech is a testament to the real world effects of that order. A positive effect, in case King was wondering. Besides being one of the many skewed viewpoints of conservatives on immigration and a blatant misunderstanding of the Constitution, it was an insulting tweet. Calling Zamora a “deportable” is the new version of “filthy immigrant” and other kinds of slurs that immigrants have had to put up with. The fact that Steve King created this new slur for immigrants just ahead of the State of the Union is no mistake and immigration will no doubt be a hotly contested topic between the president and this new Republican legislature.
Correction: This article originally stated that Zamora was born in the United States. She was not born in the United States, but was brought her by her parents before her first birthday. The article has been updated to reflect this fact.
Opinion by Lydia Bradbury