Two of the country’s most outspoken DREAMers – young immigrants brought illegally into the U.S. as children – confronted Rep. Steve King at a fundraising event this week. And while the Iowa Republican is known for his extremely reactionary positions on immigration, the activists say he managed to surpass their expectations.
“At one point, he was not only condescending, but insulting,” activist Cesar Vargas, who confronted King, told msnbc. “That really shows how extreme the congressman is even at this point.”
Vargas, along with activist Erika Andiola, taped the altercation at an Iowa event featuring King and potential 2016 candidate, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. In a video released Tuesday, Andiola is seen approaching King, insisting that he tear up her ID card for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program he is working to dismantle.
“If you really believe in deporting DREAMers like myself, here is my DACA so you can rip it,” she said.
“You’re very good at English,” King responded, grabbing Andiola’s arm while cutting her off.
“You can understand the English language, so don’t play with it,” he later said.
King was instrumental in congressional efforts last week to challenge the DACA program, which was initiated in 2012 to allow DREAMers temporary relief from deportation in a program that includes a work permit and is renewable after two years. He championed a largely symbolic vote in the House Friday, which stands no chance of passing the Senate, that would undercut future applications or renewals to DACA.
While DREAMer activists have made a point of approaching politicians who oppose legalization, few have been able to confront them face to face, Vargas told msnbc Tuesday. In the more than seven minutes the activists spoke with King, he 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.”
“That was shocking,” Vargas said. “For us, it was more relevant for now more than before. He’s actually weilding legislation at the moment.”
Paul, who is visiting the key early presidential nominating state for a three-day swing, is seen in the video quickly leaving his seat next to King to avoid being pulled into the altercation with the outspoken Republican.
“Rand Paul was just amazing,” Vargas recalled with a laugh. “He didn’t even finish his burger.”