Dems put immigration front-and-center on convention’s first day

Karla Ortiz, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton
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Democrats focused on immigration on the first day of their convention, giving speaking slots to a DREAMer, a daughter of undocumented immigrants and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), a staunch pro-immigrant activist.

{mosads}Karla Ortiz, an 11-year-old whose parents are undocumented immigrants living in Las Vegas, said Hillary Clinton asked her to stop worrying because she “would do the worrying for us.”

Ortiz, who is featured in a Clinton campaign ad, said she is “scared that at any moment my mom and my dad will be forced to leave.”

Clinton, who is expected to accept the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, has made immigration reform a keystone of her campaign, promising to present a bill to Congress in the first 100 days of her presidency.

Republican nominee Donald Trump has been at loggerheads with Hispanics since the first day of his campaign, when he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” who “bring crime” to the country. 

Trump has continued to clash with Latinos throughout his campaign, most notably when he argued Indiana-born federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not objectively oversee a fraud lawsuit against Trump University because “he’s Mexican.” Curiel’s parents are Mexican immigrants.

Democrats expect to capitalize on Trump’s bad numbers among Latino voters, a bloc crucial in swing states such as Colorado, Florida and Nevada. While the Democratic platform included the party’s most liberal stance on immigration to date, some Latinos expressed dismay that Clinton did not pick a Latino as her running mate. 

Clinton’s presumptive running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), is fluent in Spanish and was a missionary in Honduras, earning him some popularity among Hispanic voters.

Otriz’s speech at the convention was followed by a “Trump in His Own Words” video segment, in which Democrats paraded Trump’s most controversial comments on immigrants and immigration, including his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country and comments on Curiel.

Astrid Silva, an undocumented immigrant brought to the United States as a child who is also from Las Vegas, said she felt “like college was out of reach” because of her immigration status. She praised Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for helping her family, calling him her “abuelito,” or grandfather. 

“Hillary Clinton understands that this is not who we are as a country,” Silva said of Clinton’s reproach of Trump’s immigration positions.

Seasoned Hispanic politicians also joined the fray.

Gutiérrez, the Illinois lawmaker and a vocal immigration activist, rallied the crowd with a speech slamming Donald Trump while invoking the experience of his parents, who grew up in rural Puerto Rico before enduring “bigotry and hatred” when moving to the U.S.

“Politicians called them criminals,” Gutierrez said. “Sound familiar today?”

“I will raise my voice against the bigot who says a judge born in Indiana can’t do his job because his parents were born in Mexico,” Gutiérrez said, slowly increasing the tenor of his voice. “I’ll raise my voice against a bully who calls hard-working immigrants criminals and rapists.”

Gutiérrez, without calling Trump by name, went after the businessman’s proposals to deport millions of families and “put up a wall between them and us.” 

Gutierrez said it was a “fantasy” to deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. “It is a sick, hateful fantasy,” he said.

“You have joined me in that fight, and so has Hillary Clinton,” he stressed.

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was among several other speakers who went after Trump on the issue, joined on stage by her sister, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.).

“Donald Trump believes that Mexican immigrants are murderers and rapists,” Linda Sánchez told those gathered in Philadelphia. “But what about my parents, Donald? … Let me tell you what my parents are: They are the only parents in our nation’s 265-year history to send not one but two daughters to the United States Congress.”

Tags Donald Trump Harry Reid Hillary Clinton Tim Kaine

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