Immigration dominated the conversation in Sen. Kamala Harris’ second scheduled statewide town hall Friday afternoon filled with what appeared to be hundreds of supporters at the Long Beach Convention Center in the city’s downtown.
Harris fielded all types of immigration questions: can the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy known as DACA survive under President Donald Trump? Is there a way for undocumented military veterans to receive a pathway to citizenship? Will she investigate what goes on in detention centers statewide?
Short of offering a silver bullet to fix the country’s immigration system, Harris said in addition to keeping promises to DACA recipients, Congress should also pass the DREAM Act, a bill that would have given undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a pathway to citizenship.
Harris also credited the supreme court system as “working” when it denied the Trump Administration’s repeal in late February on a lower court’s ruling, keeping DACA in place.
However, Harris insisted that while it is easier for politicians with parental instincts to want to help a young person, their families who helped raise them should also be considered.
“We can’t help just young people,” Harris told the crowd. “Parents are part of their success.”
She also took a jab at Trump’s solution to build more walls.
“It is ridiculous to believe that a wall is somehow going to address all that needs to be addressed,” Harris said.
While Harris’ Sacramento town hall the day before dealt heavily with African Americans and law enforcement because of the recent shooting death of an unarmed black man by Sacramento police, questions about the criminal justice system and the need for equity among minorities were also addressed.
When local pastor Rev. Leon Wood asked how African American men can be a part of the package for progress, he received loud claps from the audience.
Harris acknowledged the implicit bias in law enforcement and how the criminal justice system disproportionately affects men of color and criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for attempting to revive a “failed war on drugs”.
“What we need to do more of is to get 21st Century jobs to underserved communities,” she said.
Harris said the conversation needs to continue to address the inequities of wealth based on race.
The senator ended the roughly 40-minute long event by calling on the public to stay committed to their causes with positivity.
“Let’s walk out of here knowing we have much more in common than what separates us,” Harris said. “There’s so much of what’s been happening that can make us full of anxiety and despair and outrage and so let’s find time to laugh and sing and hum a little while we’re marching and shouting.”
To watch the town hall click here.
Stephanie Rivera covers immigration and the north, west and central parts of Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.
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