At least one House Democrat is refusing to attend a meeting with one of Kamala Harris‘ top aides after the vice president’s new hire was found to have made disparaging comments about undocumented immigrants.
Rep. Lou Correa of California told The Hill on Tuesday that he would not join fellow members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) in speaking with Harris’ new communications director Jamal Simmons face-to-face via teleconference.
It was reported earlier this week that Simmons is meeting with the group on Thursday to hear their concerns about old posts on Twitter that surfaced this month where Simmons called for illegal immigrants to be rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
‘The deep concern to me is this may show his true disposition when it comes to immigration. That’s what my concern is,’ Correa said.
‘A meeting is not going to change my mind or give me peace of mind one way or the other.’
Correa, who fought hard to include immigration reform in President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill, indicated he was more interested in meaningful change than apologies.
Rep. Lou Correa, among the strongest backers of immigration reform in Congress, said he was concerned ‘this may show his true disposition when it comes to immigration’
He also appeared to leave the door open for future cooperation with Simmons.
‘Everybody changes. I think Mr. Simmons, like I, we all change our predisposition, our perspective on issues and you know what, I think actions speak louder than words,’ Correa said.
The California Democrat made stronger comments earlier this week when he indicated he may be at the Thursday teleconference meeting, telling Axios: ‘Is he a Trumper? That’s a question I might ask him.’
‘The statements that Jamal made were just stunning, beyond stunning. Words cannot describe my feelings,’ Correa had said.
Simmons joined Harris’ team in early January after her previous communications director Ashley Etienne, a longtime aide of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left the administration at the end of last year.
The troublesome tweets surfaced soon after.
On November 29, 2010, Simmons wrote: ‘Just saw 2 undocumented folks talking on MSNBC. One Law student the other a protester. Can someone explain why ICE is not picking them up?’
Jamal Simmons, a longtime progressive activist and writer, was announced to be joining Vice President Kamala Harris’ team in early January
He followed that with a similar post just 10 minutes later.
‘I’ll try this again: Just saw 2 undocumented folks talking on MSNBC and have serious legal question. Why wouldn’t ICE pick them up?’ Simmons wrote.
A later tweet called for ‘hardening’ borders while also finding a way to widen the pathway to citizenship for undocumented migrants in the country.
They shined an uncomfortable light on Harris’ own struggles with the Latino and Hispanic communities, including her heavily-criticized role as Biden’s southern border czar.
The longtime progressive activist and writer issued an apology on Twitter soon after his problematic past was uncovered.
‘As a pundit I tweeted+spoke A LOT. At times I’ve been sarcastic, unclear or plainly missed the mark. I apologize for offending ppl who care as much as I do about making America the best, multiethnic, diverse democracy+I’ll rep the Biden-Harris admin w/humility, sincerity+respect,’ Simmons wrote.
Simmons issued an apology on Twitter soon after the problematic comments surfaced
The tweets were uncovered soon after he was named onto Harris’ team and have been just one of the topics that landed the new aide in hot water
He’s also reportedly begun calling lawmakers to apologize for the statements. A source told Axios Simmons ‘is willing to meet with anyone who wants to understand his perspective and regret.’
One of his mea culpa’s has been to the woman MNSBC spoke with in the interview that sparked Simmons’ inflammatory tweets.
Erika Andiola, now a progressive activist helping run an immigration nonprofit in Texas, said she has accepted Simmons’ apology.
‘Jamal committed to be an ally in his role. He acknowledged that the tweet was hurtful in the way it was written & explained that his intention was not to call for ICE to pick us up, but to understand the legality of how undocu (sic) folks were on TV without possible legal consequences,’ Andiola wrote on Twitter.
Chuck Rocha, who helped drive Latino outreach for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, also publicly came to Simmons’ defense.
‘My brother @JamalSimmons has always advocated for our community and he will be a great addition to this administration. I’m proud to stand with him!’ Rocha tweeted.
Erika Andiola, a progressive activist who was the subject of Simmons’ tweet regarding MSNBC, publicly threw her support behind him after Simmons reportedly gave her a private apology
In the short time since his hiring announcement, Simmons has already been under fire for his social media presence more than once.
He tweeted on more than one occasion that George W. Bush was an ‘illegitimate president’ who ‘stole’ the 2000 election from Al Gore, adding to a slew of revelations of his controversial past comments.
Simmons wrote in a June 2012 tweet that recently resurfaced in a Fox News report: ‘I worked for Gore 2000 & believe W’s 1st term to have been illegitimate. Yet when in the room w/him I stood and gave ofc respect’.
In a separate tweet from January 2017, Simmons wrote: ‘I worked for Gore. Thought W was illegitimate. Still stood for him in respect for office. Members of Congress should go to inauguration.’
His most recent rebuke of Bush’s 2000 presidential win against Simmons’ former boss Al Gore was in a January 21, 2021 tweet – the day after Joe Biden’s inauguration.
‘The Trump vs Biden equivalency is wrong. Trump was an anti-Democratic huckster grifting the country while unleashing our demons,’ Simmons tweeted last year. ‘Biden is the #Democratic version of McCain – a good man I disagreed with. I thought W stole the 2000 elex but I still stood when he entered a room.’