While out Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) denounced a group of immigration activists who followed her into a bathroom to try to get her to support immigration reform, President Joe Biden seemed pretty relaxed about the incident, calling it “part of the process.”
Sinema’s opposition to Democrats’ Build Back Better Bill – as well as the money she has received from corporations, her support for the 60-vote filibuster rule that’s blocking most Democratic initiatives, and her flippant attitude towards her constituents – have put her in the spotlight for the past few weeks.
Yesterday, immigration activists associated with Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) tried to confront her about it at Arizona State University in Tempe and posted the video to social media.
In the video, Sinema went into a public bathroom as LUCHA activists try to talk to her about immigration as the activists followed her. Immigration reform – including a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. – is included in the Build Back Better Bill.
One activist named Blanca talked to Sinema while she was in the stall and told her that both of her grandparents got deported in 2010 and that she couldn’t go to Mexico when her grandfather died recently because of her immigration status.
“We knocked on doors for you,” one of the activists said.
They asked Sinema to support the Build Back Better Bill as she leaves the bathroom, not engaging with the activists.
We wouldn't have to resort to confronting @senatorsinema around Phx if she took meetings with the communities that elected her. She's been completely inaccessible. We're sick of the political games, stop playing with our lives.
“Build back better, back the bill!" pic.twitter.com/3OA5t6e6Fl
— LUCHA Arizona (@LUCHA_AZ) October 3, 2021
“Yesterday’s behavior was not legitimate protest,” Sinema said in a statement today. “It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom.”
While Sinema, the first and only out bisexual U.S. senator, was bothered by the confrontation, Biden didn’t seem to think it was a big deal when asked about it.
“I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics,” the nearly 50-year veteran of federal politics said, “but it happens to everybody… it’s part of the process.”
He chuckled and said: “The only people who it doesn’t happen to are people who have Secret Service standing around them.”
Joe Biden downplays Senator Sinema getting harassed by leftwing activists in a bathroom over the weekend: “I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody…it’s part of the process.” pic.twitter.com/S0D6nrzqN6
— America Rising (@AmericaRising) October 4, 2021
The Senate Parliamentarian ruled last week that that provision of the Build Back Better cannot be included if it’s passed through reconciliation since it’s not a budgetary measure. Reconciliation is a process that avoids the filibuster that’s intended for budget bills, allowing a simple majority of the Senate to pass a bill without getting 60 votes to end the filibuster.
In response, LUCHA said that Sinema is “completely inaccessible” and this was the only way to talk to her.
“It has required a tremendous amount of bravery from this young organizer to fight for her family and tell her story to her Senator,” LUCHA told The Arizona Republic in a statement about the activists.
They said Sinema “denied our requests, ignored our phone calls, and closed her office to her constituents. She hasn’t had a public event or town hall in years.”