In most cases, an immigration advocate is no stranger to heated discussions on the topic of immigration reform and policies. Recently, two young activists filmed a confrontation they had with Rep. Steve King. Rep. King had just challenged the DACA program in Washington a week prior to the confrontation. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Rep. King was influential in a vote “that would undercut future applications or renewals to DACA.”
On June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that certain immigrants could start applying for deferred action though DACA. Deferred action gives those who qualify permission to lawfully stay in the U.S. DACA is available to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children. You can read more about DACA here.
Cesar Vargas and Erika Andiola approached Rep. King at a fundraising event in August. Rep. King happened to be eating lunch with Sen. Rand Paul when the two young activists began speaking to Rep. King. The confrontation was filmed and has since been posted to YouTube.com. You can see the entire clip here. Since the video has gone viral, there have been many comments about the conversation, and also the fact that Sen. Paul quickly gets up and leaves the table after the activists explain who they are.
Towards the beginning of the conversation, Andiola hands Rep. King her DACA card and says to him: “If you really believe in deporting DREAMers like myself, here is my DACA so you can rip it.” As he hands the card back to her, he tells her that she is very good at English, but she “shouldn't play with it.”
After the confrontation, Vargas did an interview with msnbc and said that activists like him have tried “approaching politicians who oppose legalization,” but are rarely successful in having a meeting with them “face to face.” It's apparent when watching the video, why many politicians would shy away from such conversations. The clip is a little more than seven minutes long, but in that short amount of time, Rep. King “asks Andiola if she is a drug smuggler, calls the first American casualty in the Iraq war a liar and tells Andiola he's sorry that she comes from a ‘lawless country.'”
Vargas also told msnbc that he considered Rep. King's statements to be “shocking” and that the “issue is more relevant” now than it was before.
When it comes to Sen. Rand Paul's actions that day, it is unclear as to why he left the table. One could assume that he did not want to get involved in the taped confrontation, but is that a justified reaction for a U.S. Senator who seems to have such strong feelings about immigration? One of Sen. Paul's aides, Sergio Gor, responded by email to media inquiries after questions arose as to why the senator left so suddenly: “Senator Paul had a media avail after the event and that's where we had to be. CNN, Buzzfeed, Wall Street Journal and several local outlets attended the media avail.”