New York Times
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg
January 30, 2018
Standing outside in the freezing cold, dressed in a new navy blue suit and red tie, Leonardo Reyes was feeling a little overwhelmed Tuesday afternoon as he headed to Capitol Hill for President Trump’s State of the Union address. He was the guest of his home-state senator, Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon.
“It feels a little strange,” Mr. Reyes said. “It’s not just the suit. It’s the fact that we are in this space where people have the power to determine the outcome of your life.”
Mr. Reyes, 27, is a so-called Dreamer, a young undocumented immigrant shielded from deportation under an Obama-era initiative that Mr. Trump rescinded. Democrats had invited several dozen of them to sit in the gallery overlooking the well of the House on Tuesday night to put a face on the roiling congressional debate over their future.
That seemed like a good plan — until Representative Paul Gosar called the cops.
Mr. Gosar, Republican of Arizona, who is known as an immigration hard-liner, provoked considerable eye-rolling on Capitol Hill on Tuesday when he wrote on Twitter that he had contacted the Capitol Police, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “asking they consider checking identification of all attending the State of the Union address and arresting any illegal aliens in attendance.”
In a second post, he asked that those using “fraudulent social security numbers and identification to pass through security” be arrested.
And in case anyone missed his point, he followed with a third: “Of all the places where the Rule of Law needs to be enforced, it should be in the hallowed halls of Congress,” Mr. Gosar tweeted. “Any illegal aliens attempting to go through security, under any pretext of invitation or otherwise, should be arrested and deported.”
Mr. Gosar’s fellow Arizona Republican, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, took to Twitter in response, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”
To that, Mr. Gosar jabbed back, referencing Mr. Flake’s pending retirement at the end of the year, “This is why you got forced out of office.”
The powers that be on Capitol Hill did not take appear to take Mr. Gosar as seriously as he took himself. A spokeswoman for the Capitol Police did not return an email request for comment, and AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, dismissed Mr. Gosar’s suggestion with six succinct words.
“Clearly, the speaker does not agree,” Ms. Strong said.
But, this being Washington, Democrats did not miss an opportunity to pounce.
“What he said is outside the circle of decency in terms of members of Congress,” Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, told reporters. She added: “We believe that we’re children of God, and we all have a spark of divinity in us, and for him to make that statement is to dishonor the God who made us. It’s just shameful.”
Mr. Reyes came to the United States from Mexico when he was 10 with his mother, who was escaping an abusive relationship. She worked in canneries and in the fields, he said; today Mr. Reyes works as a “bilingual eligibility specialist,” helping elderly and disabled people figure out if they qualify for government services like Medicaid and food stamps. In his spare time, he is an immigration advocate.
He never expected Congress to roll out the red carpet for him. But he did not expect anyone to suggest that he be arrested either. He has been in the United States legally since 2012, when he applied for protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
“I refuse to be intimidated,’’ Mr. Reyes said, adding: “I’m not just here representing myself. I’m here representing my family back at home, representing my friends, individuals I’ve met along this journey whose life is in the balance, who are every day waking up with uncertainty.”
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