Democratic members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and leadership railed against President Donald Trump’s inaugural address Friday, calling for him to reevaluate his position on immigration.
The lawmakers slammed Trump’s call to build a wall along the border and the possibility of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals being repealed.
CHC Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico said she recognizes some people feel left behind, but doesn’t feel Trump laid out any viable solutions, adding she thought parts of the speech were “worrisome.”
“I think he missed a real opportunity to in that congress and folks who were viewing and witnessing the inauguration to feel like their part of something that we have an agenda that everyone could feel good about — I didn’t hear that,” she told reporters. “And when he pivoted to ‘it’s us versus everyone else,’ those are my words, the we’re going to put everyone here first — that’s not how you build a safer stronger world.”
Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley of New York said Trump’s remarks about making America wealthy again are misguided, arguing wealth should be measured by the country’s values.
“The rhetoric that we’re hearing today — although it may be heightened right now — we’ve had that in the past when our ancestors look more like I do than the folks that are standing here today look,” he said at a Friday press event.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said border security should be a priority, but believes Trump’s approach is wrong. He argued the nation was built by immigrants therefore should offer them opportunities.
“The president’s wife came from Slovenia for opportunity,” he told reporters. “The president’s rhetoric during the campaign was harsh, and inappropriate and ill-advised.”
Hoyer said a large portion of his colleagues of immigrants and Trump should continue former President Barack Obama’s policies.
“We just heard a speech, it was about making America first and America first, and we will make America first if the rest of the world and our citizens perceive us as the country we have been,” he said.
Rep. Pete Aguilar of California went as far as to accuse Trump of using “xenophobic rhetoric” during the campaign.
“Donald Trump founded his campaign on rhetoric that demonized one of the most important principles that built our nation — that we are proud to be a nation of immigrants,” he said at the event. “Donald Trump has normalized racism and demonized immigrants. He has insulted an inherent truth about our country’s history, the United States is successful because of the contributions immigrants have made to our country.”
Trump asserted in his inaugural speech securing the borders will play a pivotal role in keeping the country safe and increasing the number of jobs for citizens.
“Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will never, ever let you down. America will start winning again — winning like never before,” he said in the address. “We will bring back our jobs, our borders, our wealth, our dreams. We will build new roads, bridges, airports and highways all across the nation. We will get people off of welfare. We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American.”
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