By Rafael Bernal and Jesse Byrnes
July 25, 2016
Democrats focused on immigration on the first day of their convention, lining up a dreamer, a daughter of undocumented immigrants and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a staunch pro-immigrant activist, as speakers.
Karla Ortiz, a 10-year-old whose parents are undocumented immigrants in Las Vegas, Nev., said Hillary Clinton asked her to stop worrying, because she "would do the worrying for us."
Ortiz 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 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." Trump has continued to clash with Latinos throughout his campaign, most notably when he argued Indiana-born federal judge Gonzalo Curiel could not objectively try a case dealing with Trump University because "he's Mexican." Curiel's parents are Mexican immigrants.
Democrats have expected to capitalize on Trump's bad numbers among Latino voters, a bloc crucial in key swing states like Colorado, Florida and Nevada. While the Democratic platform included the party's most liberal historic stance on immigration, 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 proposed ban on Muslim immigration and comments on Curiel.
Astrid Silva, a dreamer -- an undocumented immigrant brought to the United States as a child -- also from Las Vegas, said she felt "like college was out of reach" because of her immigration status. She praised Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the outgoing minority leader, 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.
Rep. Louis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), 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," Gutierrez said, slowly increasing the tenor of his voice. "I'll raise my voice against a bully who calls hard-working immigrants criminals and rapists."
Gutierrez, 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 Sánchez (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."
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