August 2, 2013

A few days before the furor broke over Congressman Steve King's intellectual meanderings on cantaloupe-shaped hips and otherwise skinny Mexican kids, U.S. Senate candidate David Young visited our offices. We talked about many topics, including, of course, immigration.

Young said there are many planks in the Republican Party platform that are attractive to the Latino community - "pro-life, work-oriented, small business-oriented, religious and that kind of thing."

Like King, Young opposes the immigration-reform bill that passed the U.S. Senate. Young wants to see the southern border secured first. Unlike King, Young wants his party to dial back the language on immigration.

"I think some of that vitriol just isn't the best thing for us," Young said. "The rhetoric, it bothers me. I'm not a yeller or a screamer. I want to sit down and find common ground without busting down my principles."

After that exchange, Young, with a straight face and not a trace of irony his voice, told us that race has nothing to do with the prevailing debate over immigration, the positioning of many in his party in the raging imbroglio.

"I think a lot of focus is just the sovereignty issue," Young said. "I think it just really gets under people's skin that we're not protecting our borders. A lot of people talk about Mexicans. If it was Scandinavia down there, it would be Scandinavia. It just happens to be Mexico."

The remark begged for follow-up questions. Do you really think that? We're dying for employees here in western Iowa. You know that as well as I do. Do you really think people like Steve King would have a problem if these were French Canadians or Germans who didn't have papers over here? Do you really think it would take on the same dynamic?

"I'll let him answer that question, but to me, it's just a rule-of-law issue, and sovereignty and even national security to an extent," Young said. "I would look at the ports, too, and I would definitely pay attention definitely to the northern border, too."

If it's a "rule of law" issue why not apply the harshest remedy, go big-time law and order, and deport people without papers?

"I think a lot of them, if they're caught, there has been an uptick in deportation, but I'm not up for running out into the street and saying, 'Show me your papers,'" Young said. "That's ridiculous. It's just not practical. It's not kind."

If it were possible to effect some Star Trek-ish geological shifting of the earth that would affix Denmark, Norway and Sweden to the United States' southern border, and connect Mexico to, say, Chile, what do you think the crossings would look like in Texas and California?

As the blue-eyed Danes and blond Swedes entered our country, we'd hand them freshly baked, grandma-warm chocolate-chip cookies like clerks do for guests checking into the DoubleTree Hotels.

Nobody in Arizona would be shouting "Papers, please!"

Young is half-right. Republicans like King don't have a problem with Mexico. It's the Mexicans they don't like.