Erika Andiola, an undocumented immigrant and activist, spoke to Republican Rep. Steve King at a fundraiser in Iowa on Aug. 4. According to CNN, Andiola is a part of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition and wanted to confront King about his vote against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The DACA program permits delays in deportations for young people who are brought to the U.S. without the proper documentation. President Barack Obama enacted DACA, but Republicans in the House of Representatives argued that because of the legislation, more than 60,000 children this year alone have fled to the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of entering the U.S.
Andiola reportedly offered King her papers for him to tear apart, however, he countered her statement by saying that it’s not something he does. CNN reported that King then said he was talking about drug smugglers when he made the comment stating immigrants have “calves the size of cantaloupes.”
The woman explained her situation to the congressman by stating she was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by her mother when she was 11 years old. Her mother was attempting to leave an abusive relationship, CNN reported. Andiola has already been in the U.S. for 27 years.
“And so it’s OK then to violate the law?” King responded to her statement. “I’m really sorry that you come from a lawless country. I hope that you can have a happy life. But please, do not erode the rule of law in America.”
Andiola is raising awareness about undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and has been doing so since she worked for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and received her deportation deferral in 2013.
“We’re trying the best way possible to be accepted by this community … to be able to work here, to become Americans,” Andiola told CNN. “A lot of us grew up as Americans but we’re not accepted as one.”
According to The Washington Post, Republican Rep. Rand Paul was also in attendance at the restaurant but got up from his seat and left when Andiola approached him.