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Immigration Activists Don't Buy Hillary Clinton's "Political" Answer

An Iowa DREAMer confronted Hillary Clinton a day after a similar moment with Joaquin Castro. Disgust at her answer — and a sign that "no Democrat is safe."

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Three young, undocumented people confronted Hillary Clinton in Iowa Sunday as she signed items and greeted supporters, the latest sign that President Obama's decision to delay action on immigration won't take the pressure off his party.

One woman asked her about President Obama's decision to delay expected executive actions on immigration.

"Hello my name is Monica Reyes and I'm an Iowa DREAMer," said the 23-year-old activist and senior at the University of Northern Iowa, using the term often employed for undocumented youth brought to the country as children.

Clinton gave an enthusiastic thumbs up and yelled "yay!"

Asked to give her thoughts on Obama's decision, Clinton answered, "Well, I think we have to just keep working, can't stop ever working."

Cesar Vargas, the co-director of the Arizona-based Dream Action Coalition, then told Clinton the president had broken promises to the Latino community and asked if she supported his decision. Clinton ended the back and forth.

"Well, I think we have to elect more Democrats," she said, before walking away.

But a leader of the small group of DREAMers who crashed the Iowa event said they weren't satisfied with the answer.

"It was sad to hear the answer she gave. It shouldn't be about the politics," said Erika Andiola, a high-profile DREAMer who shot the video.

"If Hillary Clinton is going to try to stand for the immigrant community she's going to have to show she's better than the president — a champion for immigrants and not just another deporter-in-chief," Andiola told BuzzFeed News.

And she said Clinton will have to take substantive stances if she hopes to be seen as a leader by the immigrant community.

"For her to answer like that to Monica whose parents could be deported, it's such a political answer," Andiola said.

DREAMers have played a large role in the recent immigration debate, and many benefitted from President Obama's decision to normalize the status of some people who arrived in the country as children. Reyes told BuzzFeed News she works with immigrants and DREAMers in Iowa and felt confronting the former Secretary of State was important because of the outsized attention Iowa will receive in the coming 2016 race for president.

She said she enthusiastically supported Obama in 2007, when she went see him speak at a middle school in New Hampton, Iowa during his campaign for the Democratic nomination, and listened as he spoke up for young immigrants. But since then, she said, she has been disappointed with the stops and starts on immigration and delays.

"A lot of Latinos did vote for him and support Democrats and we're not getting our voice taken seriously," she said. "We have to keep pressuring them on their promises."

That appears to be exactly the strategy that has emerged after Obama's recent decision to delay promised executive action that would improve the legal situation of millions of undocumented immigrants. At the time, even White House press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged that the president knew he would take pressure on himself from activists. It now appears other leading Democrats will be asked to answer publicly for his decision by DREAMers.

The confrontation in Iowa with Clinton comes a day after a Texas DREAMer confronted Joaquin Castro and longtime union activist Eliseo Medina over the president's delay.

"No Democrat is safe because they chose politics over giving relief to families," said Andiola.

Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at

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