Two Dreamers confronted Rep. Steve King (R) about his hard-line stance on immigration policy at a political fundraiser in Iowa on Monday, according to a video an immigrant-rights group posted to YouTube.
Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas approached King (Iowa) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at their table. Paul walked away before the confrontation began (CNN reported he was escorted to an interview), but King stayed.
Andiola confronted King over his efforts to end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which offers deportation relief to young undocumented immigrants. Andiola and Vargas are leaders of DRM Capitol Group, an immigrant-activist organization.
“I know you want to get rid of DACA, so I want to give you the opportunity if you really want to get rid of it, just rip mine,” Andiola told King, handing him what she said was her DACA registration card. “You can go ahead and do that.”
King stood up and told Andiola, “This is not what I do.”
Andiola replied that King has fought against Dreamers and called them names, referencing his incendiary 2013 comment that for every Dreamer entering the U.S., there are 100 drug smugglers who have “calves the size of cantaloupes.”
“I just don’t understand why you’ve been wanting to do that,” Andiola said.
“Stop a minute, stop a minute,” King says, grabbing Andiola’s hand and pointing at her. “You’re very good at English. You know what I’m saying.”
“I was raised in the United States,” Andiola said.
“Right, so you can understand the English language, so don’t act like you don’t know,” King replied. “You’re saying something that’s not true. I spoke of drug smugglers, now you’re not going to tell me you’re one of them, are you?”
“Do I look like a drug smuggler to you?” said Andiola.
The Iowa Republican has long opposed DACA, calling it an example of President Obama’s abuse of power. He and other Republicans blame it for triggering the recent wave of children and adults from Central America migrating to the U.S. King backed a Republican border crisis bill last week after leaders made changes to the package, including a vote to freeze the DACA program.
Andiola and King launched into a lengthy debate about the legality of the DACA program. Cesar Vargas stepped in, telling King that he wanted to serve in the military after 9/11, but was denied because of his undocumented status.
“I love this country,” Vargas said.
“But you’re telling me you’re not abiding by the law,” King replied.
Following the confrontation, King said that the two activists simply wanted to “create a scene,” according to CNN.
“I decided early in the conversation that I was not going to walk away,” he added. “They’re here demanding that we change the laws…Why would you want to bring lawlessness to the United States of America? And that’s the question they cannot answer. Why would we want to turn America into a third-world country?”
In a follow-up video, Andiola said that she wanted to call out King for his stance on immigration and urge President Obama to act on his own to expand deportation relief.
“It really showed his ignorance and his hatred towards us,” Andiola said. “We’re here to give the message to President Obama that he needs to stand up to people like him and actually act as big as possible to also protect our parents.”