Source: Los Angeles Times
California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris vowed Monday to be a loud, supportive voice for immigrants after she becomes a U.S. senator next month, pledging to push for comprehensive immigration reform and to work closely with lawmakers in Sacramento to “provide national leadership” on the topic.
Speaking to immigrant rights advocates, law enforcement officials, religious groups and business leaders at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Harris acknowledged that there is much anxiety over what President-elect Donald Trump — who said during the campaign that he wanted to build a wall along the Mexican border, deport millions of people and ban Muslim immigrants from entering the U.S. — will actually do when he takes office.
“We’re all feeling at least concerned,” Harris said. “We’re all feeling, I think, actually, a myriad of emotions.”
Harris said there are “two definitions of what it means to be a patriot.”
“There’s one definition that’s just, you defend your country, whatever it does,” she said. “And then there’s the kind of patriot I believe us all to be: the kind that will fight each and every day for the ideals of our country.… This is not subversive, this is not about anything other than love of country and, in loving our country, fighting for its ideals.”
Reporters were allowed into only the final few minutes of Harris’ hourlong discussion with local leaders. Those in the attendance included Gov. Jerry Brown's choice for state attorney general, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles); California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles); and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
Speaking with reporters afterward, Harris said that people had shared stories about the crying children of immigrants and Muslims asking their parents if they were going to be sent away, and that law enforcement officials told her they worried victims of crimes would not report incidents out of fear that the police would turn them over to be deported. Harris also said people were concerned that parents who are in the U.S. illegally were keeping their children out of school and away from pediatricians because they worried about deportation.
“I feel very strongly that California’s voice must be a voice of leadership in Washington, D.C., on all the issues that we discussed,” she said. “We have an outsized stake in the outcome of the conversation about immigrants … and I feel very strongly that we must defend all people.”
Harris said she was against any policy that would deny children access to public health services, public safety and public education. She also said that the government has limited monetary resources and that although border safety is important, funding is also needed to address other areas including human trafficking and gun trafficking.