During a recent appearance on C-Span's popular "Washington Journal," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., was confronted by an angry self-identified Republican called “John,” who unleashed his frustrations about undocumented immigrants, including America’s so-called Dreamers.
"John" was furious about young undocumented immigrants and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed undocumented immigrants brought here as children to live and work in the U.S.
"It costs $530 billion for the benefits they get," said the caller, who could not cite his information. "They took my grandkids' jobs. They took my kids' jobs, running 'em out of business," he added a moment later.
As for the Dreamers "John" argued: "They need to be deported, just like their parents, and it is terrible what these people are doing to this country."
Jayapal, who immigrated to the U.S. when she was sixteen years old, handled the situation with patience and compassion. "It sounds like you are in a lot of economic pain," she said to the caller.
She calmly countered his argument, saying that his economic situation was not the fault of immigrants but unfair business practices. "The people you should blame are the big corporations that are not paying their fair share of taxes, and creating jobs that don't pay as well, and don't allow somebody to work 40 hours a week and actually support their families."
"(Undocumented) immigrants contribute more than they take," said Jayapal, offering to send "John" studies on the matter. "It is a lie that they take public benefits because they just don't qualify for more benefits."
Dreamers and undocumented immigrants are being demonized, Jayapal argued, to drive "a wedge between a working white person, in whatever state you are, and immigrants."
They are, she added, a "small minority . . . The majority of Americans, I believe, think immigration is good for the country and that people like me have helped build the country."
"It's always easier to blame, but immigrants are not to blame for the country's economic woes," said Jayapal.
– With Associated Press and Seattle Post Intelligencer reports