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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema denounces immigration activists who followed her into restroom

Sinema says her students were "unfairly and unlawfully victimized" by activists who disrupted her class at Arizona State University.

Editor’s Note (May 2, 2022, 10:25 a.m. ET): NBC News has determined that two passages in an earlier version of this article about Sen. Sinema’s interaction with immigration activists were not properly attributed to their original source and did not meet our standards for original material. The passages have been removed from the article.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said Monday that it was unacceptable and "wholly inappropriate" that activists recorded her and students using the restroom at Arizona State University.

"In the 19 years I have been teaching at ASU, I have been committed to creating a safe and intellectually challenging environment for my students," Sinema said in a statement. "Yesterday, that environment was breached. My students were unfairly and unlawfully victimized."

Sinema has been at the center of the battle to pass President Joe Biden's economic agenda. The bipartisan infrastructure bill she co-wrote has passed in the Senate, but it is being held up by House Democrats until Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., commit to voting for a larger safety-net package that includes Biden's domestic priorities.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking to a small group of reporters before a floor speech, defended Sinema on Monday.

"I strongly support the right to peaceful protest. I started my career protesting the Vietnam War, and I get protested all the time. And I understand and so feel for the immigrant community and what they're going through. But following someone into a bathroom and recording them, that's over the line," he said.

Sinema took aim at lawmakers in her statement saying: "It is the duty of elected leaders to avoid fostering an environment in which honestly-held policy disagreements serve as the basis for vitriol — raising the temperature in political rhetoric and creating a permission structure for unacceptable behavior."

Separately, Sinema issued a scathing statement Saturday attacking the House's decision to delay a vote on her infrastructure bill, saying it was an "ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal" by some lawmakers.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the protesters "breached" the "safe and intellectually stimulating environment" that Sinema had worked to create at Arizona State.

"That's inappropriate and unacceptable. I think the context of what happened here is important, despite the fact that, of course, we stand for — the president stands for — the fundamental right of people to protest, to object, to criticize," Psaki said at a briefing Monday.