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POLITICS: PennAve

GOP turns protesters' cantaloupes over to local food bank

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Immigration,Agriculture,Republican Party,PennAve,Tim Mak,Steve King

Republican congressmen donated nearly 100 cantaloupes to a D.C. food bank Thursday after immigration reform advocates delivered the fruit to their offices to protest their positions on the issue.

The groups — United Farm Workers, United We Dream and America's Voice — sent 224 cantaloupes to Republican and Democratic lawmakers who supported an initiative led by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that would allow the deportation of young undocumented immigrants to resume.

King earlier angered immigration reform advocates — and leaders of his own party — when he made the wild claim that many young illegal immigrants had "calves the size of cantaloupes" from smuggling drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The cantaloupes delivered Thursday included the message, "This cantaloupe was picked by immigrants in California. ... You gave Steve King a vote. Give us a vote for citizenship."

But what to do with hundreds of cantaloupes?

With the Republican Study Committee assisting, the office of Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., took the lead in gathering dozens of the cantaloupes so they could be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank.

The final donation count: 96 cantaloupes.

"We called ahead, and they do accept cantaloupes," Bentivolio spokesman Matt Chisholm said of the food bank.

No word on what happened to the other 128 cantaloupes, although a good bet is that staff members were going to dig in.

"I was getting ready to eat it in the office," one House Republican aide said. "Then our staff assistant told me, 'No, we're donating it.'"

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