The immigration activist who recently confronted Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) at a fundraiser said Wednesday that she believes Paul can’t just “run away” from the issue of immigration if he wants to be a serious presidential contender.
Erika Andiola, co-founder of the Dream Action Coalition and a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, approached Paul and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Monday night to talk about the U.S. House’s legislation to end the program. King spoke with her and another activist for several minutes, but Paul got up from the table at his aide’s behest right after shaking Andiola’s hand.
“If he really wants to run, he’s gonna have to face this issue,” Andiola told MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart. “It’s a tough issue, but reality is that if you have someone who is actually affected by it try to talk to you, you don’t run away. You actually sit there and actually try to talk.”
She noted that King, whom she called “one of the most extreme anti-immigrant folks in Congress,” took the time to speak with them while Paul, who is mulling a 2016 presidential run, “didn’t even finish his burger and bailed out.”
“I don’t know if Rand Paul actually learned a lesson from Mitt Romney, but Mitt Romney lost his election with the Latino vote because he didn’t support the DREAM Act and because he believed in self-deportation,” Andiola added. “So I hope he thinks about it twice before he shows up with Steve King and talks about things like immigration.”
Paul addressed the YouTube video of his encounter with Andiola in a Tuesday appearance on Fox News, explaining that he had to get up from the table to make a previously arranged interview.
“I’ve always been open to discussing immigration. I’m very open to discussing that I think there should be some kind of immigration reform,” he said. “But I don’t think you can do it without first securing the border, and that’s the problem with the President doing this unlawfully.”
Andiola also had a bone to pick with the President and the Democratic Party. She said that Democratic politicians tout their support for Latinos in order to attract more voters, yet don’t make genuine efforts to pass immigration reform.
“The reality is Obama has deported more people than any other President in the United States,” she told Diaz-Balart. “To me it’s just not right to say that you’re supporting undocumented folks and families and you’re deporting them as well. So our fight is for him to really show that he supports us and to stop deportations.”