Iowa Republican congressman Steve King was confronted by two DREAMers and national immigration reform activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, Monday.
Andiola introduced herself to King, who has advocated getting rid of President Obama's policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which gave work permits and removed the threat of deportation from undocumented youth who were brought to the country as children. She gave him her DACA card for him to rip up if he wanted to.
After she introduced herself, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who was sitting at the table with King having lunch, took one last big bite of his sandwich and walked away.
King disputed Andiola's notion that he spread rhetoric against DREAMers, grabbing her hand and saying, "You're very good at English, you know what I'm saying."
"It was very forceful, I wanted to keep my cool," Andiola told BuzzFeed of when King grabbed her. "We didn't want to look like the crazy ones, as soon as he grabbed my hand it was very hard and forceful. I felt intimidated but I didn't want to show that because that's what he wanted to do."
King said what he has talked about is drug smugglers, which ignores the time he said for every valedictorian, "there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
After King said he was troubled a great deal because they have such disrespect for the laws of the country, Vargas said, "I want to be able to serve my country as a military man," which led to one of the most heated exchanges on the video:
"You want to enter into the military even though you're unlawfully present in the United States."
"Did you know the first person who died in Iraq was undocumented? He didn't care whether he was a U.S. citizen, he didn't care whether he was from our country. He fought and died for his country."
He lied to get into the military. Will you admit that? Will you admit that they he lied to get into the military?
As Andiola saw the back and forth escalating, she interjected, telling King she wanted to make sure he knew "that we're going to be here in this country, we're going to be fighting really hard for our parents, we're going to be fighting really hard for our own lives. We're going to keep succeeding in this country and we really hope that you find it in your heart to be able to stop attacking us," she said.
But King only wanted to ask her if she came from a lawless country.
"You came from a lawless country, do not import lawlessness into this country," he said.
For Andiola, whose mother fled Mexico because she was in an abusive relationship, it was finally too much.
"I came from a country," she began, her voice cracking, "that every time my mom would get beat up by my dad the police would never do anything."
That's when an onlooker yelled, "Go home, you need to go home."
Andiola said the entire exchange underscores that some Republicans will not change their views, but President Obama can help undocumented immigrants by making substantial administrative changes, which he said he will announce at the end of the summer.
"What Obama has to do is stop using Republicans as an excuse and do something as soon as possible," she said. "If DREAMers are bold enough to confront Steve King then Obama needs to confront them."
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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