President Obama sits in the White House today because President Reagan brought so many Hispanic voters into the nation's fold with the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, Rep. Steven King, R-Iowa, postulated on the House floor Thursday.
King, one of the House's staunchest opponents to a comprehensive immigration reform bill, reached that conclusion by connecting two disparate facts: that 71 percent of Hispanic voters in the 2012 election voted for Mr. Obama, and that an estimated 3 million undocumented immigrants were granted legal status through the 1986 law.
"It's clear to anybody that can do any kind of statistical analysis that Barack Obama wouldn't be president of the United States without Ronald Reagan's 1986 amnesty act," he said.
King said that the three million who received legal status were responsible for bringing, on average, five family members to the United States.
"Now that's 15 million people," he said. "There are a large block of voters there that have shifted over to vote for who, Mr. Speaker? Barack Obama."
King used his theory to rebut Republicans who say that supporting comprehensive immigration reform will help the GOP win more Hispanic support.
"If the theory of those who believe they can reverse the trend of Hispanic vote, if their theory is correct," he said, "if they can provide amnesty and somebody's going to benefit from that, then they have to admit that Ronald Reagan's signature on the '86 amnesty act brought about Barack Obama's election."
Bipartisan groups of lawmakers in both the House and the Senate have spent months negotiating comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Legislation has made progress in the Senate, where a comprehensive bill recentlyafter a thorough amendment process.
Negotiators on the House side last week hit a snag. Reaching a compromise has proven to be more difficult in the House, where have been very vocal in their opposition to proposals to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.on their own bill. However, negotiations this week have
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, insisted on Thursday that the House will eventually produce its own legislation. "Don't ask how, because if I knew I would certainly tell. But the House will work its will," he said.