Originally published by USA Today
Sen. Ted Cruz was confronted at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday by protesters who decried the detention of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A video shared on social media showed people in the airport chanting, "Free the children!" as a smiling Cruz stood uncomfortably in the terminal.
"Americans will not be silenced!" at least one protester shouted.
At one point, the Texas Republican took time to pose for a photograph with a woman even as the chants continued.
The Twitter account for AFSCME Local 3299, a union representing employees of the University of California system, said members of the union's Immigration Committee spotted Cruz at the airport and confronted him "about the inhumane conditions" at Immigration and Customs Enforcement detentions centers in Texas.
"I'm sorry, we're trying to catch a flight," Cruz, who was heading to Houston, told the committee members as they introduced themselves.
"Free the children!" they chanted as he walked away while continuing to speak with one of the union representatives who had introduced herself. They appeared to follow Cruz to his gate, where they continued to chant.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Hillary Ronen said on Facebook that she was getting off a plane when she saw the union activists confronting Cruz. She decided she would also share her feelings on the immigration debate with Cruz.
"Although many may say it’s pointless, I will never miss an opportunity to confront those in power and appeal to their conscience. And we must not let them have any peace until there is justice," Ronen said of her decision to confront Cruz.
"I represent the biggest Latino community in the district and we are horrified by what is happening with the caging of children and the separation of families," she told Cruz. "I don't know how you can live with yourself supporting these policies."
"Ma'am, the cages were built by President Obama," Cruz said.
"Kids are dying and families are being separated, and it's disgusting," she told Cruz. "Please do something to stop it. You have a power."
"I have been leading the fight to stop this," Cruz said. But he blamed "Democratic filibusters" for "stopping efforts to close the loopholes."
"I don't care who built them, dismantle them," she said.
"So you want to just leave children in street?" he asked Ronen, who said she did not but wished to see them reunited with their families or placed in foster care if that was not possible.
Cruz argued that under current policies, "We are incentivizing human traffickers and drug traffickers to take children into this country." He said DNA testing conducted in the Rio Grande Sector showed that nearly 30% of the cases showed no biological connection between the children and the people they were traveling with, repeating a figure he cited during an address from the Senate floor earlier this month.
In May, the Department of Homeland Security launched a pilot program to test the DNA of migrant families to determine whether they had a biological connection as part of an effort to weed out those who might be trying to get favorable treatment in asylum cases.
Cruz said he was told the 30% figure by Border Patrol officials during a visit to the Rio Grande Valley.