Dreamers protest at Rep. King's office; King denounces on Twitter - Omaha.com
Published Friday, June 14, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 10:33 am
Dreamers protest at Rep. King's office; King denounces on Twitter

WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve King put the word out Thursday via Twitter.

The Republican congressman from northwest Iowa has been an outspoken opponent of creating a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally, including those brought by their parents as young children.

That group is commonly referred to as “Dreamers” because legislation to address their situation is known as the Dream Act.

King has repeatedly denounced the Obama administration's policy of deferring deportations of those individuals. The House last week approved King's legislation to roll back that policy, although it probably will go nowhere in the Senate.

His proposal prompted 20 Dreamers to show up Thursday at his office, dressed in graduation gowns.

“We wanted to know, just ask him directly, why he wanted to deport us and why he didn't want us in this country,” said Maricela Aguilar, 22, who was born in Mexico but raised in Wisconsin.

Aguilar described King's amendment passed last week as a “blatant attack on deferred action for childhood arrivals,” a policy that has benefited many of those visiting his office.

King was not in the office when the group arrived. The Dreamers stayed for about 20 minutes, then left at the request of the Capitol Police.

Before departing, Aguilar said the group delivered its message to the office receptionist, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and handed over written statements on each person's situation.

Hers said: “I'm Maricela, I've been living here for 17 years, I'm undocumented, I'm going to be a future lawyer, and I'm not going to let Steve King take that away from me.”

Aguilar told The World-Herald that she was brought into the country by her parents when she was 4 years old.

“We tried to apply for a visa, which was denied because we were very poor, and so my parents took the courageous choice to bring me and my sister into this country for a better future,” she said.

Walking away from King's office, they noticed his tweet. Aguilar said she was offended by the congressman's use of the term “illegal aliens.”

In an interview with The World-Herald, King stood by what he wrote.

“We should be offended when people break our laws,” King told The World-Herald. “And I'm even more offended when the president violates his own oath of office and refuses to enforce the law. That's what brings this about.”

He said it's a new development that people would come to the U.S. Capitol proclaiming their unlawful presence in the country.

“All people everywhere in the world have dreams, and we all care about young people, and we all care about their opportunities in education, their opportunities to be employed, but don't they care about the law?” King said. “And what a level of disrespect to do that.”

King said the incident underscores that the American people should not buy the promises of immigration bill supporters that they will be able to secure the country's borders against future illegal immigration.

“If they can't secure the United States Congress, then how are they going to secure the United States of America?” King said.

King is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which will begin taking up smaller pieces of immigration-related legislation next week.

Meanwhile, the Senate is moving forward on its broader bill, but it could take a while.

Senators were able to vote on only one amendment this week, rejecting a proposal Thursday by Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.

His amendment would have required the border to be under control for six months before the path to citizenship would start for those in the country illegally.

The vote was 53-47 to kill the amendment. Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer, both Nebraska Republicans, supported Grassley's amendment, while Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, voted against it.

Border security is a key sticking point when it comes to immigration and an area where lawmakers will continue to work on finding a compromise.

Republicans such as Grassley are insisting that border security provisions in the bill need to be tougher. During his weekly conference call with reporters, Grassley said that the American people expect the country's borders to be secured but that the legislation has only a plan for border security, no requirements.

“It seems to me that we ought to be sure, and have proof, that the border is actually secure before anybody is legalized, not just having a plan of securing the border, because suppose that plan doesn't work?” Grassley said.

Johanns has his own proposal aimed at improving employer verification systems and has backed another senator's proposal aimed at bolstering border security.

But Johanns said the Senate will need to pick up the pace if it is to finish the legislation before it leaves for the Fourth of July recess or even by its August recess.

“We're off to a very slow start,” he said.

Contact the writer:

202-630-4823, joe.morton@owh.com, twitter.com/MortonOWH

Contact the writer: Joseph Morton

joe.morton@owh.com    |  

Joe is The World-Herald's Washington, D.C., bureau, covering national political developments that matter most to Midlanders.

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