LOS ANGELES – This week voters in Iowa’s 4th District chose to oust Steve King as their representative to Congress. King has a long history of embracing racist and nativist views.

Please attribute the following statement on Steve King’s failed bid for re-election to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):

“The defeat of known racist Steve King in the Iowa Republican primary this week, and King’s consequent forced early retirement, should be celebrated.  In the midst of righteous national upheaval in response to ongoing systemic bias and racism in our nation’s law enforcement apparatus, the long-overdue removal of an apologist for and adherent of white nationalism from Congress is an important milestone of progress.  Even if the defeat results mainly from self-serving partisan interests, there are important lessons in this week’s electoral outcome in a conservative Iowa congressional district.

“For many years, King’s racism manifested mainly in crude and execrable comments about undocumented immigrants.  Thus, the main lesson is that, in the current national context, nativism is racism, pure and simple.  As such, it is and ought to be utterly unacceptable in American politics.  While we know that a white supremacist as transparent and known as King continues to serve as a lead advisor in the White House, seemingly controlling much of what Donald Trump says and does on immigration and other issues, the future of such open and despicable defiance of our express constitutional values will be short-lived.  The nation has awoken to the crass and dangerous opportunism in cloaking white nationalism behind protestations that it is merely an expression of ‘legitimate’ opinion on matters of public policy, or of ‘legality’, or of prioritizing citizens.  Crypto-racism may always reappear, but the days of its current manifestation as ‘policy debate’ on immigration should be coming to an end.  Eyes wide open, the Latino community will secure its demise.”