Iowa Rep. Steve King Insults DREAMers Who Confront Him On His Anti-Immigrant Positions
Immigration has been a particularly divisive issue within the Republican Party, but just before leaving the Capital for August recess last week, House Republicans agreed to effectively end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program, started by President Obama, has allowed 580,000 “Dreamers” who came as children to the United States with undocumented parents to get work permits and avoid deportation. It’s one of the vital steps that the Obama administration has taken while Republicans refuse to act on comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.
Now back in their home states and districts, members are having to answer to why they would want to deport young people who grew up in the U.S. and know no other home. An encounter between Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and two DREAMers, Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, illustrates just how out of touch these legislators are. The whole thing is captured on video here.
King was at a fundraiser for Sen. Rand Paul in Okoboji, Iowa. In fact, Sen. Rand Paul, who is sharing a meal with King and introduces himself to the DREAMers, bolts with his mouth full when he hears what they want to talk about. (Paul’s aide Sergio Gor explained that the Senator had another media event that he needed to attend.)
Andiola and Vargas, who founded the DREAM Action Coalition to advocate for progressive immigration policy, then confront King. After Andiola offers King the opportunity to rip up her work authorization card through DACA, King notes that she is “very good at English.” Her reply: “I was raised in the United States.” King goes on to say they are breaking the law, even when Vargas informs him that he wanted to serve in the military but was not allowed. Here is an excerpt of the exchange, and head over to ThinkProgress for the full report:
ANDIOLA: I’m actually a DREAMer. I’m originally from Mexico, but I was raised here. I graduated from Arizona State University. I know you want to get rid of DACA. And I wanted to give you the opportunity, if you really want to get rid of DACA, just rip mine. You can go ahead and do that. You take my DACA, you will literally take away everything.
KING: This is not what I do. […] I don’t call you names–
ANDIOLA: I mean, cantaloupe calves?
KING: That’s drug smugglers. You’re very good at English. [Grabs Andiola’s arm]
ANDIOLA: I was raised in the United States.
KING: You know what I’m saying. So you can understand the English language. You’re saying something that’s not true. I spoke of drug smugglers… Your ears work too, I was speaking of drug smugglers only.
ANDIOLA: You’re the one who’s trying to get rid of DACA.
KING: And you heard why. I told you why. The president has no constitutional authority to do what he has done.
ANDIOLA: Yes he does. [She turns to Vargas] He’s actually an attorney, he’s a DREAMer. He graduated from law school.
KING: Oh and that makes you an authority. […] You keep your card. I don’t do individual policy. I do national policy for everyone. It troubles me a great deal that you have such disrespect for the laws of the United States of America. You’re telling me that you don’t have to abide by the laws.”
BOTTOM LINE: While Rand Paul might physically run from an interaction with DREAMers, the members of Congress who want to end DACA can’t run from their votes. Rep. Steve King’s comments are just the latest example of the intolerant and backward views that only hurt our society and our economy.