- The Washington Times
Thursday, February 14, 2013

A heated back-and-forth between Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and an 18-year-old college student who confessed to being an illegal immigrant has turned even hotter, as players on both sides give conflicting accounts of what occurred.

Mr. Rohrabacher and the college student faced off Feb. 6, according to a report in The Hill, during a meeting in the congressman’s Capitol Hill office, at a time when President Obama was pushing the passage of immigration reform. Both sides admit the meeting ended in shouting, and the college student — Jessica Bravo, a freshman at Golden West College in California — left in tears, The Hill reported. But from there, the stories differ.

Ms. Bravo said Mr. Rohrabacher started the fight and began shouting at learning she was an “undocumented” immigrant, she said, according to The Hill. She said the congressman claimed to “hate illegals” and threatened to deport her and her family, according to the report.

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“The moment I said that word [undocumented], it just completely changed the mood of the room,” she said, in The Hill report. “I couldn’t even talk anymore because I was crying.”

Mr. Rohrabacher’s office, however, sees it differently.

A spokeswoman for the congressman said Minerva Gomez, an immigration reform activist who accompanied Ms. Bravo to the office, started the dispute by being rude to staffers and suggesting Mr. Rohrabacher’s opposition to amnesty was discriminatory, The Hill reports.

The congressman listened politely to Ms. Bravo’s point of view, asking at one point why illegal immigrants should be given special treatment over those who want to enter the country legally, spokeswoman Tara Setmayer said. When Ms. Bravo didn’t know how to answer, Ms. Gomez stepped in, The Hill reported.

That’s when tensions rose. Ms. Gomez accused Mr. Rohrabacher of opposing amnesty because of the “color of [immigrants’] skin,” said Ms. Setmayer, The Hill reports. That’s when Ms. Setmayer, who is black, attempted to intervene and calm the situation, according to The Hill.

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