Immigration activists upset with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s record on deportations got onstage and protested the senator’s event Sunday afternoon just feet away from her.
The confrontation came just a day after a similar action by activists at an event headlined by Hillary Clinton and Hagan. The North Carolina Democrat has repeatedly said she opposes President Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration policy.
Viridiana Martinez, with the North Carolina DREAM Team, an organization of undocumented youth, was part of the group who showed up at the event and caused the disruption. She said before the event someone with the campaign asked to see their shirts and signs. Some activists were let in to the baseball field where the event was being held but those with the signs were not allowed in.
But once the event started, those outside the fence began chanting and interrupting Hagan. Eventually, the activists inside walked over, grabbed the signs, and went up on stage where aides halfheartedly tried to stop them.
Once Hagan realized the activists were up on stage with her she addressed them. “Oh y’all, we definitely support immigration reform. But you need to go talk to Thom Tillis,” she said, referencing her Republican opponent, before being interrupted. “Y’all I supported common sense bipartisan immigration reform.”
“We wanted to make clear she is not our friend,” Martinez told BuzzFeed News after the event Sunday. “She has a track record of being anti-immigrant,” she said, pointing to her vote against the DREAM Act and to end the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protected undocumented youth from deportation in 2012.
The NC DREAM Team has also called out Hagan on this issue in recent Spanish-language billboards they put up ahead of the midterm election.
Erika Andiola, a DREAMer and national immigration activist who helped coordinate the action with the North Carolina advocates, said that even in a climate where Democrats could lose the Senate to Republicans, Hagan deserves to be protested because she is no better than Tillis on immigration.
“Having her or her opponent in office makes no difference as they are both anti-immigrant,” Andiola told BuzzFeed News. “The North Carolina Dream Team has been working for years to try to get her on our side, and all we have gotten is a no vote on the Dream Act and a vote to repeal DACA.”
Andiola said holding Hagan and other senators accountable during election season sends a clear message to Democrats that Latinos should not be taken for granted and talked about Obama’s much-criticized delay on administrative actions to slow deportations.
“When her and the other blue dog Dems decided to convince Obama to delay relief for our families and continue to deport our community, they chose to throw Latinos under the bus. Now the Latino community in NC is making sure she gets a clear message that that was the wrong move,” she said.
At the Saturday event with Hagan and Clinton, activists affiliated with United We Dream interrupted Clinton and were led out, leading her to address the issue.
“I understand immigration is an important issue,” Clinton said to hecklers. “I thank you for your advocacy.”
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