Rep. Brad Sherman picked a fight with fellow Congressman Howard Berman at a debate Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 at Pierce College in Woodland Hills During a
Rep. Brad Sherman picked a fight with fellow Congressman Howard Berman at a debate Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 at Pierce College in Woodland Hills During a heated exchange between the two over a federal immigration bill, Sherman got up close to Berman s face, threw his arm roughly around his shoulders and challenged You want to get into this? (Screen grab from YouTube video)

A group of immigration advocates took aim at Rep. Brad Sherman on Friday, just hours after he forcefully grabbed Rep. Howard Berman during a debate as the two argued over credit for introducing the Dream Act.

The moment was caught on video Thursday night and widely disseminated by Friday morning, and arose during a heated debate at Pierce College.

Echoing Sherman's challenge to Berman at the event: "Do you want to get into this?", Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a national group advocating immigration reform, told reporters: "We do want to get into this, and we want to set the record straight."

"Howard Berman is one of the greatest champions of immigrants and immigration reform the U.S. Congress has ever seen," Sharry said.

Thursday's incident drew international attention for a tense moment between the two veteran lawmakers, and caused a flurry of reaction from Latino and immigrations groups.

The altercation occurred after the two politicians began arguing about the Dream Act, and the extent of Berman's involvement in writing the legislation to help young, undocumented immigrants get citizenship. The bill never made it out of committee.

At one point, Sherman angrily rejected Berman's claim he'd authored the Dream Act.

"Luis Gutierrez introduced the bill," Sherman angrily told Berman, referring to the representative from Illinois.


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Berman appears to step forward and glare at Sherman, prompting Sherman to throw his arm around his 71-year-old opponent's shoulders, and say: "You want to get into this?"

Berman's campaign promptly sent out a 22-second YouTube snippet of the incident.

While two sides disagree about whether Sherman, 57, was truly challenging Berman to a fight, a handful of immigration reform advocates defended Berman, and reiterate his role in helping authoring the Dream Act.

On the conference call, Angelica Salas with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, called Berman a "leader in speaking to the needs of the youth in the San Fernando Valley."

She also batted down Sherman, saying that "Sherman rarely engages directly with the Latino community in order to speak up on their issues."

And Rep. Luis Gutierrez took to Twitter to defend Berman: " It is a matter of public record that Howard Berman wrote the DREAM Act and I am a cosponsor."

In a statement, Parke Skelton, Sherman's campaign manager, claimed Sherman is strongly endorsed by Latino and immigrant rights groups in the Valley, including the Latino Democrats of the San Fernando Valley.

In a phone call on Friday, Sherman agreed that Berman did help author the most recent Dream Act.

But he stated that Berman was wrong to say that he was the first person to introduce the bill, when there had been previous bills introduced by others.