As members of Congress head home for the August recess, pro-immigration reform groups sent them a departing gift: cantaloupes. The fruit, harvested by immigrants in California, were for 224 House members that voted to end the Deferred Action program, which grants temporary amnesty to immigrants brought to the United States as children.
United Farm Workers, United We Dream and America's Voice delivered the cantaloupes to representatives' offices because of comments made by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, during a July 18 interview with conservative news site Newsmax where he said that most young immigrants eligible for citizenship under the DREAM Act are drug smugglers.
"For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert," King said.
The organizations felt cantaloupes were a fitting symbol because they showcase "the real contributions immigrants make to the United States every day."
"Think about cantaloupes in the United States," Deputy Director of America's Voice Lynn Tramonte told Whispers. "Where do they come from? Who picks them? Who does the back-breaking work to put fruit and vegetables and healthy produce on America's tables?"
The cantaloupes were affixed with the message: "This cantaloupe was picked by immigrants in California" and "You gave Steve King a vote. Give us a vote for citizenship."
Of the 224 representatives who voted to end deferment, 221 were Republicans and 3 were Democrats. Only six Republicans – Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), David Valadao (Calif.), Spencer Bachus (Ala.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.) and Devin Nunes (Calif.) – voted against the amendment.
"We wanted to make sure the people who voted with Steve King to deport immigrants heard from us or heard from farm workers through their representatives that they don't like those policies and that they need a path to citizenship," Tramonte said.