August 5th, 2014
08:05 AM ET
7 years ago

Undocumented immigrant confronts Rep. Steve King at fundraiser

Okoboji, Iowa (CNN) – Republican Rep. Steve King was confronted Monday night at his own fundraiser by an undocumented immigrant and activist who argued with the Iowa congressman over his stance on immigration.

Erika Andiola, who’s involved with the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, mostly took issue with King’s vote last week to curb the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows certain young people - who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children - to delay deportation.

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House Republicans argue the policy, enacted under President Barack Obama's administration, has helped spur the crisis in which more than 60,000 children from Central America have fled to the U.S.-Mexico border this year.

Andiola introduced herself as a beneficiary of DACA as King was eating dinner at the fundraiser, which took place at an open restaurant in Okoboji, Iowa. She was joined by another migrant, Cesar Vargas.

“I know you really want to get rid of DACA, so I just wanted to give you the opportunity and rip mine,” Andiola said, handing King a piece of paper.

The congressman studied the paper and stood up, saying, “This is not what I do.”

The two then entered a lengthy back-and-forth with both talking over each other repeatedly. In the exchange, King defended his 2013 controversial comments about undocumented immigrants having “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

“I spoke of drug smugglers,” he told Andiola. “Now you’re not here to tell me you’re one of them, are you?”

Andiola said she came to the country from Mexico with her mother when she was 11 and has lived in the U.S. for 17 years. She said her mother was escaping an abusive relationship, and they already had family in the U.S., so they came across the border.

Her mom had applied to get into the U.S. legally but was denied, she said.

“And so it’s OK then to violate the law?” King answered back.

“I’m really sorry that you come from a lawless country,” he later added. “I hope that you can have a happy life. But please, do not erode the rule of law in America.”

King traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas recently with fellow Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann. In his speech at the fundraiser, he recalled a moment when the two lawmakers went to the southern tip of the state and planted an American flag for people to see from the Mexico side. They then rode off in their rental car playing “very patriotic” country music by Toby Keith, he said.

“It just felt good to be a strong American,” he told reporters.

For her part, Andiola told the media that she was in Iowa for work and saw that King was holding the fundraiser, with a guest appearance by Sen. Rand Paul (who was escorted away during the confrontation for an interview.)

She’s been working to raise awareness about the issue since she got her deferral and worked last year in Congress for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, she said.

“We’re trying the best way possible to be accepted by this community…to be able to work here, to become Americans. A lot of us grew up as Americans but we’re not accepted as one,” Andiola said.

The DREAM Action Coalition later released the full exchange on YouTube.

King argued Andiola and Vargas simply came “to create a scene.”

“And I decided early in the conversation that I was not going to walk away,” he told reporters. “They’re here demanding that we change the laws…Why would you want to bring lawlessness to the United States of America? And that’s the question they cannot answer. Why would we want to turn America into a third world country?”

Filed under: Immigration • Iowa • Steve King
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Gurgyl says:
    August 5, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am
    Deport. Pie already shrunk. Bring manufacture, Infrastructure back home, then talk.

    With all due respect aren't you an immigrant? Why are some immigrants treated better than others? I understand what you're saying but can't you at least have some compassion for these people? Everyone in this country is the descendant of illegal immigrants. With the exception of us blacks whose ancestors were brought over against their will in chains and shackles and forced into unpaid servitude. The Natives didn't invite the white man to come and kill them off and then take over their country. I don't know the answer but what's wrong with a little compassion?

    August 5, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. Chipster

    The GOP doesn't want immigrants to be deported because their donors need cheap labor! They're very vocal about how terrible it is but do nothing about it when they are in power. It can easily be stopped by arresting employers who hire illegal immigrants. Seriously, when did you hear of that happening? Arrest the employers and there will no longer be jobs to attract the illegal immigrants. Of course, you will want to prepare for the economic disaster that will soon follow.

    August 5, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "She and her mother are criminals. By definition, all illegals are criminals."

    Except for the FACT that being in the country illegally is not a crime...."by definition." If you can't understand that, then you have no business even talking about the issue, especially the part where you rant, rave and foam at the mouth about "enforcing our laws." Those laws do not make it a crime, so you clearly do not understand them in the first place.

    In honor or Steven "Cantaloupe" King, you win the Ticker's very first Cantaloupe Award...."by definition."

    August 5, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. enough already

    The Senator should have said, "I personally forgive you for your issues, however you and your family have broken laws of the the United States Of America in which you are nor a citizen. So I would be happy to relocate you by phoning law enforcement!"

    August 5, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. anthony

    illegal is illegal . they still have to go through the process. IF they keep running to keep their big mouth , deport them. what make them so special than the other who go through the process. Their parents bring here illegal so blame their parents , dont blame on America. They are very lucky for not getting deport yet and keep running around.Go back to their countrx and run their big mouths

    August 5, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. Pat

    You know what? I've had it! I'm tired of demands, and a press that is a manipulative tool of this administration. Right now we are cutting down our military to the bare bones. We are cutting soldiers that are presently serving in Afghanistan because supposedly we can't afford our present military forces. It's a way to say thank you to our American citizens that have spilled their blood and guts for the Nation. I'm not going to go into what the V.A. has become because, hell, nobody cares. But we have millions of dollars to spend on invaders that are sucking resources that we can't afford. So take your freakin' demands and tell them to someone who cares
    You want to come to this country and make demands? Then come in the LEGAL way, and don't be a pendejo, coming illegally, and having the cojones of making demands.

    A legal Latina, Pat

    August 5, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. sonny chapman

    Does King consider himself a Christian9one who tries to follow the Teachings of Jesus Christ) ? WWJD ? "I was a stranger & you did/did not welcome me".-Matthew 25,35.
    PS-That Passage is entitled "Judgment Day".

    August 5, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. J Anthony

    Obviously some of you have convinced yourselves that this problem began under this president. U can thank corporate globalism, black market capitalism, and bad trade deals that benefit few people, having all increased stealthily over the last 30 years. Go to the root of the problem for a change.

    August 5, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. excuse my rant

    Rick McDaniel
    The illegals come here and make demands, when they have no rights here at all. That is why they have to be deported. They simply have to face the truth, they broke the law in America, and if the situation were reversed, they would be thrown in prison in Mexico. We should be doing no less.
    There have been multiple US Supreme Court cases that would disagree with you regarding illegal immigrants having no rights whatsoever. Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886), Wong Wing v. U.S. (1896), Plyler v. Doe (1982), all resulted in the SCOTUS stating that illegal immigrants are granted rights (albeit, limited) by the US Constitution. That's something you like, isn't it? The Constitution?

    August 5, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Deport. Pie already shrunk.
    Aah Gurgyl!
    While I am generally in agreemwnt with you, at least in principle, you sometimes come across as one of those immigrants that says " I got mine, there's not enough for you to get yours".
    This, from a fellow multi-lingual immigrant.
    Just an observation.

    August 5, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |

    Telling that she mentioned DACA. It opened the flood gates and this will continue until its fixed. We know Obama is not going to rescind his come to America card. Entitled and lawless she shows up with in your face stunts. What about the people that do it legally. Line up and do it like a person that cares about our laws and our country. Our immigration system will never be fixed while the community organizer is in office.

    August 5, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. Ron

    First of all she is an illegal immigrant and should be arrested. We can't continue to let this country be invaded by illegals claiming some kind of rights. We have a right way and a wrong way to enter this country. People who usurp our laws should not be given a free ride.

    August 5, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. Prince Ali

    1: She was brought here as a child. Crossing the border was the "crime." She isn't responsible for a "crime" committed by her parents when she was a child. If your parents robbed a bank when you were 11, and took you along, and were just caught 17 years later, you couldn't be prosecuted.
    2: She's actually a graduate of Arizona State University. So she came to this country as a child, lived here for 17 years, educated herself and became a productive, taxpaying citizen, and you want to deport her to a country she hasn't lived in for 2 decades? Basically, you can be a lazy, unproductive American and burden society but because you were born on the right side of the line you have rights that she does not? Does that make sense to anyone?

    The immigration laws are out of whack and are hurting not just immigrants, but all Americans. We lose so much talent and venture capital to Canada and the UK because we let our racism and xenophobic fear override sound economics and facts. That Indian programmer who we trained in American universities just had his visa expire, and couldn't get citizenship so he took his idea for the next Twitter to Canada or back home to India and an expensive American education failed to produce American Jobs.

    August 5, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC

    "I spoke of drug smugglers,” he told Andiola. “Now you’re not here to tell me you’re one of them, are you?”
    He was speaking about drug smugglers, alright.. He was speaking about EVERYONE sneaking across the border. He was suggesting that EVERYONE was a criminal of one type or another, particularly as drug mules.
    Here's something else I find interesting: If I were an illegal immigrant I think I would hire a lawyer or a spokesperson to show up at these meetings and speak for me,versus risking deportation by coming out of hiding.
    I'm not sure if I laud their courage as much as I frown on their lack of,er, caution and common sense.
    Of course that is just my opinion.

    August 5, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. JT

    The GOP has no heart. This woman was brought to the U.S. as a child when she was 11, raised here, went to school here, got a college degree here, has connections here, works here, pays taxes here but, for circumstances beyond her control, is not a legal U.S. citizen. People say, "you need to go a become a citizen because you are here illegally." The problem is there is currently no way a person under these circumstances can become a citizen. That's what the administration is seeking to do, give these people who are Americans in every other way and who are already contributing to American society a path to become a citizen. You can do the humane thing and try to do something to help these people or send all of the "law breakers" back. The GOP has chosen to act inhumanely and justify its actions with arguments of "rule of law." BTW, I wonder whether King's characterization of Mexico as a "lawless country" is going to come back to bite him.

    August 5, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |

    Of course she mentions DACA. Obama’s implemented 2012 DACA – his immunity scheme via executive fiat.

    August 5, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  17. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    "I spoke of drug smugglers,” he told Andiola. “Now you’re not here to tell me you’re one of them, are you?”
    He was speaking about drug smugglers, alright.. He was speaking about EVERYONE sneaking across the border. He was suggesting that EVERYONE was a criminal of one type or another, particularly as drug mules.
    Everyone who's here illegally IS a criminal. They're guilty of breaking Federal immigration laws.

    August 5, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. Klutch Cargo

    Aw, Shucks,
    There is an election coming in November. Now I know most of you here have no idea what that is. So maybe you should shut up and eat your peas. Maybe you all should learn Spanish. And check your Retirement Plan. You do have a Retirement Pan, don't you? I see more and more Corporations are Incorporating Off Shore. The GOP, the National Joke Party will have no job for you, but you will have Obama Care and Food Stamps. Maybe.

    August 5, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. Silence DoGood

    @Prince Ali: "She's actually a graduate of Arizona State University. So she came to this country as a child, lived here for 17 years, educated herself and became a productive, taxpaying citizen"
    This is very important. When I hear conservative rants they always refer to "those people" as lazy, dependent, slobs taking government money. Liberals need to be strong and stand up to these bigot myths. Yes I will make the call: It is bigoted to assume people of a certain country of origin and color are all the same bad thing.

    I will provide the conservative retort: "um, um , no you are."

    August 5, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "Everyone who's here illegally IS a criminal. They're guilty of breaking Federal immigration laws."

    This is your brain damage: breaking a law is not automatically or "by definition" a "criminal act." Only when you break a law that states it is a crime and imposes potential criminal penalties is it a crime. There are plenty of laws on the books that impose civil process and penalties without making the violations they cover into crimes. Being here illegally is one of them. Crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor (i.e., a crime), however, but you cannot (a) charge the kids who got dragged here by their parents and (b) you can't run around assuming every single Hispanic person you meet came here by illegally crossing the border (not just because some were kids, but also because MOST people here illegally came here LEGALLY and then just overstayed their visas, for example, which again is NOT a crime).

    You guys have a really hard time wrapping your heads around the latter.

    August 5, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. Sniffit

    He also grabbed her wrist while angrily pointing at her face and told her "you're very good at English." What a class act.

    August 5, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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