ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA
ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, was interrupted by protestors calling for immigration reform Wednesday evening, the second time a congressman’s speech was interrupted at Georgetown this semester.

Three activists interrupted Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) (SFS ’66, LAW ’69) during his speech, which advocated for immigration reform, in Gaston Hall Oct. 29.

The event with McCarthy on Wednesday was sponsored by the Georgetown University College Republicans.

McCarthy’s speech largely focused on his unorthodox journey through the world of politics and his role in devising the electoral strategy that eventually resulted in the Republican landslide of 2010 in the House of Representatives.

Approximately five minutes into his speech, a group of protestors advocating for reforms to the nation’s immigration system interrupted McCarthy.

“The immigration system tears families apart. Mr. McCarthy, where’s your heart?!” shouted the protestors, who were quickly escorted out by Department of Public Safety officers.

While McCarthy did not acknowledge the protestors at the time, he later talked at length about his views on the immigration reform debate.

“I’m actually a person that supports reforming the immigration system,” McCarthy said. “Our current system for getting into the country, it’s too hard. We have a system today, where 42 percent of everyone that’s here illegally came here legally but overstayed a visa.”

When challenged on the unsustainability of energy sources that come from the burning of fossil fuels, McCarthy emphasized a multi-pronged approach to energy production.

“You’re not going to get to [energy independence] with one energy source. We’re not going to be able to live off of the production of just oil,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy was also critical of President Barack Obama’s role in the October government shutdown. Although McCarthy said that the shutdown hurt the GOP politically in its immediate aftermath, he pointed to lingering problems stemming from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as a much more perilous issue for Democrats.

“People didn’t like the shutdown, but they’re finding out that they don’t like Obamacare as much either,” McCarthy said.

In another exchange, McCarthy was asked about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a Senate bill passed last week that prohibits employers from discriminating against someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“This is my principle and philosophy,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against for any reason. … I don’t care what your sexuality is — you shouldn’t be discriminated against. We are becoming so divided as a nation [that] it’s hurting us.”

According to one student, however, McCarthy gave a more direct answer following the event.
“When I asked him if he would support the bill passed by the Senate, he told me flat out, ‘No,'” said Katia Garcia (COL ’17).

The event garnered a wide range of reactions from audience members.

Those supportive of the immigration rights protestors saw the event as simply another politician speaking in broad generalizations, and refusing to give concrete answers.

“It was political garbage, the same thing politicians always say. I thought he could have at least acknowledged the protestors at the time instead of ignoring them. We already feel invisible enough,” Lorena Santiago-Hernandez (SFS ’16) said.

Hoyas for Immigrant Rights President Citlalli Alvarez (COL ’16) compared McCarthy to former Senator Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) of the Red Scare.

“He talked about staying competitive and reforming the immigration system, but he offered nothing in terms of concrete solutions to the problems,” Alvarez said. “It’s a brand new form of McCarthyism, just a different McCarthy.”

GUCR Chair Alex Cave (COL ’15) said that event was engaging but thought the protestors’ methods were ineffective.

“I didn’t think what they did was productive,” Cave said. “They protested about immigration reform but didn’t even get a chance to hear his response. He went on to speak on the topic at length, but there was no back and forth.”

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