‘You have not done your job’: DACA recipients confront Rep. Steve Knight

Congressman Steve Knight

Congressman Steve Knight couldn't defend his record on immigration when approached by constituents.

A visibly uncomfortable Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) struggled to explain his votes on immigration when confronted by a group of pro-DACA activists.

In a video obtained by SoCal Daily, Knight is approached by roughly half a dozen young adults who want to know why Knight won’t stand up for his own constituents while he is in Congress.

“It’s very upsetting to see you stand here and say that you support Dreamers when your actions say otherwise,” Michelle, a constituent, says to Knight. “You have not done your job. You have not represented your constituents,” she continued.

 

At issue is a discrepancy between what Knight says and what Knight does.

President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed individuals who came to the United States as children to live more openly, without the fear of deportation. Trump, as part of his unending anti-immigrant agenda, has tried repeatedly to end DACA, but those efforts have been delayed by lawsuits.

Protecting the ability of DACA recipients to remain in the U.S. has overwhelming public support nationally and in California. In Congress, the DREAM Act would provide the legal infrastructure to allow DACA recipients to remain in the only country many recipients remember.

Knight claims to support the DREAM Act, but when it comes to standing by his word or selling out to the whims of Republican leadership, Knight opted for the latter.

Over the summer, there was a bipartisan effort to bring the DREAM Act to the floor of the House of Representatives, through what is known as a discharge petition. Knight initially signed on to support the effort, but soon turned his back on it in an act of naked political convenience.

Knight sided with Republican leadership on a vote that effectively killed the discharge petition and set up vote on sham immigration bills that Knight himself knew would fail.

“Knight said that he knows the leadership-supported bill will probably go down in defeat but he still wanted to cast his affirmative vote so that his constituents know he wants to grant citizenship to those benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,” wrote the Washington Post.

“The compromise bill gets me a lot more level with the DACA population,” Knight told the Post at the time.

Those who truly stand on the side of DACA recipients were outraged at the “DC gamesmanship” from Knight. “While DREAMers wake up every morning with the uncertainty of whether they’ll be able to remain in this country, Congressman Steve Knight is in Washington playing political games with their futures to help bolster his increasingly imperiled re-election bid,” said DCCC spokesperson Drew Godinich.

In the video, the DACA activists lamented that Knight would not even meet with them.

“We have been in your office more than five times,” says one woman, “and every single time your staff has shut down the office in our face.”

“If you really wanted to talk to DACA recipients,” another woman said, “you would have opened the door the first time we went to your office.”

During the conversation, Knight failed to convince the group of his position, with several noting that they will not be voting for him on November 6. One even noted that she will be actively rallying others to vote Knight out of office.

Knight is locked in a close re-election race against Democratic nominee Katie Hill. Most election experts say the race is a toss-up, while at least one, FiveThirtyEight, gives Hill a slight edge.