Rep. Steve King Backs Down on Deportation Talk When Confronted by Immigrant
During an awkward confrontation Monday, two undocumented activists approached Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in a restaurant in Okoboji, Iowa, to tell them that they are undocumented. After shaking hands, undocumented activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas told King that they did not want him to kill an executive action that grants temporary legal presence to DREAMers, a colloquial term used to describe some undocumented immigrants illegally brought to the country as children, like themselves.
Andiola asked King to rip up her employment authorization card, a work authorization document issued after she had been approved for a presidential initiative known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But King refused and instead said that their families were not abiding by the laws of the country. When she charged that he had said that undocumented immigrants like her have “cantaloupe calves,” alluding to a characterization he had made on the House floor last year, he said, “You can understand the English language.”
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] 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.”