Immigration advocates from key states joined America’s Voice for a special broadcast on immigration before last night’s Republican Presidential debate, which was the first of the 2016 election season.
Moderated by AV’s Juan Escalante, the broadcast focused on what viewers could expect from candidates during the debate, and featured activists Karla Perez of the Youth Empowerment Alliance in Texas, Monica Reyes of DREAM Iowa, Erika Andiola of DRM Action in Arizona, and Lynn Tramonte of Ohio’s Voice.
Both Reyes and Tramonte have previously confronted Democratic and Republican candidates and hopefuls for President on their immigration views, with Andiola famously confronting immigration hardliner Steve King and Rand Paul in Iowa, with the recording garnering over one million views on YouTube.
Last September, Reyes confronted Hillary Clinton over President Obama’s immigration delays. She also confronted Republican candidate Jeb Bush last March, resulting in a widely-publicized video after Bush compared Obama to a “Latin American dictator.”
And in June, Tramonte, along with immigrant families directly affected by the GOP-led lawsuit blocking DAPA and DACA+, traveled from Ohio to Iowa to confront Republican John Kasich over the partisan tactics delaying deportation relief for families.
Gladys, one of the immigrant mothers who confronted Kasich in Iowa, told Escalante she wanted to hear from Kasich what he would do about DAPA and DACA+. According to Gladys, Kasich told her he cares about Ohio’s families, but her family could be separated due to his lawsuit.
Monica talked about how her life has drastically improved because of DACA, but her family still remains in limbo because her mother cannot apply for DAPA. Monica said she wanted to hear candidates go beyond the border security talking points and address a humane solution for millions of undocumented immigrants like her mom.
“We are no longer wanting to remain in the shadows,” Monica said. “We are no longer wanting to remain voiceless. And when these candidates propose things like, just toughening up security, toughening up the border, securing it, it’s not addressing the real issue, which is the undocumented immigrants already in this country.”
Karla, who hails from a state with two Republican Presidential candidates, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry, said she expected to hear the two attack President Obama’s immigration actions protecting five million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
“Although [Cruz] himself is an immigrant,” Karla pointed out.
Earlier this year, Karla and Texas DREAMers stopped the Republican-led effort to repeal the Texas DREAM Act, which Perry signed into law with broad support when he was Governor. Since then, Karla notes, Perry has been intent on going hard-right on immigration, including sending the National Guard to the border during last year’s child refugee crisis.
Near the end of the call, Erika said Bush has a huge challenge as a more moderate candidate running in a Republican primary. While Bush still supports legal status for undocumented immigrants — he has backed off a path to citizenship — it’s Trump’s extremists positions that have sucked up the air in the GOP field and caused many candidates to lurch to the right.
The broadcast is a definite must-watch, and a great example of grassroots organizing on the ground — don’t miss it below.