Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., arrives for the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on May 29, 2014. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)
Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty

What Peter King may not understand about US attitudes on immigration


Donald Trump’s family-separation policy has sparked international attention and a swift public backlash, which his Republican Party probably would’ve preferred to avoid less five months before the midterm elections. But as TPM noted, some GOP lawmakers are less concerned than others.

[M]any vulnerable GOP lawmakers are fearing the political ramifications of their inaction in the face of public outrage over the mass separation of migrant children and families.

But Rep. Pete King (R-NY) is not too concerned.

“Americans care more about Americans,” he told TPM.

Similar assessments have been percolating for a while, but the New York Republican crystalized the sentiment in a handy, five-word phrase: “Americans care more about Americans.”

In other words, the public may seem disgusted when confronted with reports of officials separating immigrant children from their families, but as far as Peter King is concerned, the electoral impact should be limited – because those who are suffering most aren’t U.S. citizens.

And who knows, in some political circles, King’s expectation might be right. But there’s another aspect of Americans’ attitudes that Peter King may not fully appreciate.

For much of the country, these families’ nationality is irrelevant. Families are families. Suffering is suffering. To see a child dealing with government-imposed anguish is intolerable, regardless of where that child was born.

But many Americans also care about what’s done in our name, on our soil, by our government, with our resources.

When U.S. officials, at the direction of the U.S. president, separate children from their loved ones as part of a misguided and unnecessary “zero tolerance” campaign, it does more than just affect the immigrants. It affects us all.

Update: Conservative media is picking up on a similar message, with one host arguing this morning, “These aren’t our kids.”