Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a staunch opponent of President Barack Obama's immigration executive actions, has defended his use of the term "deportable" toward an undocumented immigrant who was a guest at the State of the Union.

King's comments came as he co-hosted the Iowa Freedom Summit, an event for conservatives featuring speeches by Republican Party figures.

King's tweet on Jan. 20 stated, "#Obama perverts 'prosecutorial discretion' by inviting a deportable to sit in place of honor at #SOTU w/1st Lady. I should sit with [U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel] Alito."

His comment was toward 21-year-old Ana Zamora, an undocumented immigrant originally from Mexico but currently living in Dallas, Texas. Zamora has been living in the U.S. since she was a child and has remained in the country as a result of Obama's June 2012 executive action that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows eligible undocumented immigrants to temporarily avoid deportation.

During an interview with Iowa radio station WHO, King said he used the "deportable" term from the U.S. federal statute (8 U.S. Code § 1227), which outlines instructions on how attorneys general may remove "classes of deportable aliens" from the country. King said the term "deportable" was used because pro-immigration groups have "conflated the term illegal immigrant with the term immigrant."

"I decided I'm going to soften my language a little bit, and I did, and they're still offended," King said.

King dismissed claims he was offending DACA recipients, also referred to as Dreamers.

"They try to figure out what is it that they can hyperventilate about," King said on Friday ahead of the Iowa Freedom Summit. "They want to live in a perpetual state of outrage. They're constantly scanning something they can be outraged against."

During the Iowa Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, which included potential Republican Party candidates such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, immigrant rights advocates protested against the opposition of immigration reforms and King's comments.

"Governor, do you stand with King, or do you stand with us and our families?" said Marco Malagon, a Dreamer from Texas while Perry addressed attendees. "Do you think I'm deportable?"

Christie's speech was also interrupted. According to the Dream Action Coalition, a group focused on advocating for the voice of undocumented youths, 13 protesters were removed from the Iowa Freedom Summit venue.

"We are here today sending a message to the GOP presidential candidates, like Perry, that if they are serious about 2016, they need to stay as far as possible from Steve King and his hateful actions towards us," said Malagon, co-founder of the Texas Dream Team.

"Immigration continues to be a central issue for GOP hopefuls who have their eyes on the White House. Events like the Freedom Summit further illustrate how out of touch the Republican Party is with the growing Latino and immigrant population in the United States. Do they really want to deport me and my mother?" said Cesar Vargas, a Dreamer from New York who interrupted Christie.


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