A short speech from an 11-year-old girl displayed one of the most striking contrasts yet between the two parties when it comes to immigration.
Earlier this year, Karla, a US citizen, was featured in an ad from Hillary Clinton. In the ad, Karla tells Secretary Clinton that she lives in constant fear that her undocumented immigrants parents could be deported at any moment.
“Let me do the worrying,” Secretary Clinton tells the weeping girl in the ad. “I’ll do all the worrying. Is that a deal? I’ll do everything I can to help, OK?”
But during the opening of the Democratic National Convention last night, Karla cast her fears to the side and addressed a primetime audience on what it’s like to be one of the estimated five million US citizen kids with at least one undocumented parent.
“I’m scared that at any moment my mom and my dad will be forced to leave,” Karla said during her speech. “And I wonder, ‘What if I come home and find it empty?’”
“I want my parents to see me do science experiments and find my rare rocks in the desert. I want to grow up to be a lawyer so I can help other families.”
“[Clinton] wants me to have the worries of an 11-year-old, not the weight of the world on my shoulders.”
Karla’s mom’s Francisca, beaming at her side, also made some remarks in Spanish.
“The immigration system must be improved so that all families can stay together and be able to reach the American Dream.”
Immediately following Karla and Francisca was Astrid Silva, a Nevada DREAMer and leader. Astrid’s series of personal letters on what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant youth are widely credited with turning Sen. Harry Reid into an immigration reform champion.
More recently, Astrid’s inspiring story was featured during President Obama’s historic address announcing his November 2014 immigration actions.
“When I was 4 years old, my mother and I crawled into a raft, and we crossed the river to join my father in America in search of a better life,” Astrid told the audience.
“I grew up like an ordinary girl — my dad worked as a landscaper and my mom stayed home with my brother and I. But while my friends did ordinary things, I couldn’t because my parents were afraid that someone might discover I was undocumented.”
“My family believed so deeply in the promise of this country that we risked everything for the American Dream.”
As Astrid spoke, the giant monitors behind her displayed a simple but powerful message: “No human is illegal.”
— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81) July 26, 2016
The image of the two undocumented speakers was a world apart from the image of the disturbing “Build the wall!” chants and other anti-immigrant rhetoric that flooded the halls of the Republican National Convention last week.
In fact, the image of Astrid, Karla, and Francisca even stood a world apart from the Democratic Party of a decade ago, when a Democratic Congressman infamously called immigration “the third rail of American politics,” reflecting the conventional wisdom of many Democrats at the time.
But while Democrats have leaned into a full embrace of immigration, Republicans have lurched to the fringe right, nominating for President a candidate who wishes to build a massive wall along the entire US/Mexico border and round up and deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants from their homes.
As Frank Sharry said earlier today, “the decision to prominently feature undocumented immigrants and mixed status immigration families at the DNC gave America a window into the passion of millions of hard working immigrants yearning to be formally recognized by a nation they already call home.”