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Day One Speakers at DNC Highlight Inclusive Vision of Immigrants and America

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Meanwhile, Trump cancels “Hispanic Outreach” event for the second time

In sharp contrast to last week’s proceedings at the Republican National Convention (RNC), day one of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) underscored a vision of an America that is strengthened by inclusive policies and attitudes toward immigrants.

Karla and Francisca Ortiz: The most iconic immigrant-related moment from yesterday was provided by 11-year old Karla Ortiz, an American citizen in a mixed status immigration family who spoke from the primetime stage with her undocumented immigrant mother, Francisca. While the entirety of the speech is worth watching (here), Karla’s personal reflections about her family stole the show and underscored that the immigration debate is personal, not an abstract policy issue, for millions of families in America. Said Karla: “I don’t feel brave every day. On most days I’m scared that at any moment my mom and my dad will be forced to leave … And I wonder what if I come home and find it empty?” [Hillary Clinton] “wants me to have the worries of an 11 year old, not the weight of the world on my shoulders.”

Astrid Silva: Prominent Nevada-based Dreamer and immigrant advocate Astrid Silva gave a powerful speech. She said that, “my family believed so deeply in the promise of this country that we risked everything for the American dream.” Silva contrasted the two presidential candidates’ views toward immigrants by saying, “When Donald Trump talks about deporting 11 million people, he’s talking about ripping families apart – separating families like mine … Hillary Clinton understands that this is not who we are as a country…. I know she will fight to keep our families together.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL): Leading congressional immigrant advocate Rep. Luis Gutierrez called Donald Trump a “bigot” and Trump’s mass deportation plan “sick and hateful.” He said, “Immigrants contribute to our communities and make America a great nation. Immigrants die defending our democracy. And you know what? The give our founding principles meaning in our time. Every time immigrants are labeled as them but over time they become a part of us…”

Meanwhile, the pro-immigrant proceedings at the DNC were in stark contrast to the fear mongering and dark vision of immigrants and America that coursed through the Republican convention. After all, Donald Trump’s keynote speech equated immigrants with murderers. Not surprisingly, Trump is doing very poorly with Latino voters and his campaign has promised to increase his outreach to this community. But for the second time, Trump cancelled  kick off a “Hispanic engagement” meeting with Hispanic leaders in Miami scheduled for yesterday. The reason given? Several key participants were unavailable. No word if these so-called “scheduling difficulties” were at all related to Trump’s continued depictions of Latino immigrants as criminals.

Where does the public stand on these issues? A Gallup poll of 3,270 participants and released last week found:

84% of Americans favor a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including 76% of Republicans

Two-thirds of Americans oppose mass deportation and building a wall

More Republicans support a path to citizenship than support building a wall

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The decision to prominently feature undocumented immigrants and mixed status 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. The courage of Astrid Silva as well as Karla and Francisca Ortiz was aimed not at defying immigration laws but at reforming them. Their presence was a stunning rebuke to a Republican convention that portrayed immigrants as the dangerous ‘other.’ If Republican intransigence doesn’t whither soon, the Republican Party eventually will.”