Demo­cratic con­tenders vie for His­panic vote

Can­di­dates par­tic­i­pate in LULAC town hall event

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Front Page - Bill Glauber

The pres­i­den­tial race re­turned to Mil­wau­kee with what amounted to a po­lit­i­cal dou­ble­header.

Demo­cratic con­tenders came to the LULAC na­tional con­ven­tion Thurs­day while Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was due to ar­rive Fri­day to tout the econ­omy and raise some cam­paign cash.

The League of United Latin Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens, the na­tion’s old­est His­panic civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion, held a fo­rum that featured sep­a­rate con­ver­sa­tions with U.S. Sens. El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Ver­mont, for­mer Texas Con­gress­man Beto O’Rourke and for­mer hous­ing sec­re­tary Julián Cas­tro.

A lot of the dis­cus­sion re­volved around im­mi­gra­tion, as well as the pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion Thurs­day to aban­don his push to have a ques­tion about cit­i­zen­ship on the 2020 cen­sus.

“Wow, he’s go­ing to fol­low the law?” War­ren said.

“This is more ev­i­dence of how er­ratic this pres­i­dent is,” Cas­tro said dur­ing a meet­ing with re­porters.

Asked about im­mi­gra­tion raids that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is

re­port­edly plan­ning for the week­end, O’Rourke said, “To make our com­mu­ni­ties safe, we don’t need to round up peo­ple.”

“As pres­i­dent I will lead the ef­fort of rewrit­ing the im­mi­gra­tion laws in our own im­age,” O’Rourke said.

Sanders lit into Trump, call­ing the pres­i­dent “a bigot, a racist, a xeno­phobe.”

“We are go­ing to bring our peo­ple around an agenda that works for all of us and not just wealthy cam­paign con­trib­u­tors,” Sanders said.

Repub­li­cans coun­tered that Trump has de­liv­ered eco­nomic ben­e­fits for His­pan­ics in Wis­con­sin and across the coun­try.

“The eco­nomic poli­cies cham­pi­oned by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump have low­ered His­panic unem­ploy­ment rates to record lows,” said Mandi Mer­ritt, a spokesper­son for the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee.

“The pres­i­dent’s poli­cies are clearly work­ing while the so­cial­ist plat­form adopted by the 2020 Demo­crat field would kill our econ­omy.”

Sanders ad­dresses his age

Sanders, 77, was asked about his age, and re­sponded by tout­ing his record and vi­sion to drive the coun­try for­ward.

“When you look at a can­di­date, age is a fac­tor, the can­di­date’s record is a fac­tor, mostly what that can­di­date stands for is a fac­tor,” he said.

On his “Medi­care for All” pro­posal, Sanders said, “We’re go­ing to make Repub­li­cans an of­fer they can’t refuse” to get a mea­sure passed through Congress.

Asked if he would give peo­ple an op­tion to keep pri­vate health in­sur­ance un­der his sin­gle-payer plan, Sanders said: “No.”

He said Amer­i­cans don’t like health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies. “What Amer­i­can peo­ple do love is their doc­tors, hos­pi­tals and nurses. Un­der Medi­care for All peo­ple will have free­dom of choice in their doc­tors and hos­pi­tals.”

War­ren re­veals im­mi­gra­tion plan

Ear­lier Thurs­day, War­ren un­veiled an im­mi­gra­tion plan, writ­ing on her blog that she seeks “to cre­ate a rules-based sys­tem that is fair, hu­mane, and that re­flects our val­ues.”

Her plan would “de­crim­i­nal­ize” mi­gra­tion, pro­vide a “path­way to cit­i­zen­ship” for un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants and sep­a­rate “law en­force­ment from im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment.”

She vowed to “re­shape ... from top to bot­tom” U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion and Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

“I will stop the cri­sis at the bor­der,” she told the au­di­ence. “No great na­tion tears fam­i­lies apart. No great na­tion locks up chil­dren. And that’s crit­i­cal.”

War­ren ac­cused Trump of “try­ing to stir up some more hate to try to get more peo­ple ex­cited.”

And she ham­mered home her cam­paign theme of who the gov­ern­ment should work for.

“We have a chance in 2020, in a democ­racy, to take this back and make this gov­ern­ment work for all of us,” she said. “We can at­tack the cor­rup­tion of a gov­ern­ment in Wash­ing­ton that only works for those with money. We can at­tack it head on. And we can make this gov­ern­ment work not just for those at the top, but for ev­ery­one.”

War­ren was asked about the World Cup-win­ning U.S. women’s soc­cer team, which has fought for equal pay.

“This is a women’s team that gets out there ev­ery day and pro­duces,” she said. “And when women pro­duce then, by golly, women ought to be paid for it. Come on.”

Cas­tro on de­crim­i­nal­iz­ing bor­der cross­ings

Cas­tro defended his plan to de­crim­i­nal­ize il­le­gally cross­ing the south­ern bor­der. He has called for re­peal of Sec­tion 1325 of Ti­tle 8 of the U.S. Code, which makes il­le­gal cross­ings a fed­eral crime.

Jeh John­son, the for­mer Home­land Se­cu­rity sec­re­tary un­der Barack Obama, has crit­i­cized such pro­pos­als as “tan­ta­mount to declar­ing pub­licly that we have open borders.”

“I would say that Sec­re­tary John­son is wrong, Vice Pres­i­dent Bi­den is wrong on this and Con­gress­man O’Rourke is wrong on this,” Cas­tro said.

Asked how he would re­duce gun vi­o­lence, Cas­tro said he fa­vored com­mon­sense gun re­form, in­clud­ing uni­ver­sal back­ground checks and a re­newed as­sault weapons ban.

He also said would push for in­vest­ment in men­tal health care to re­duce sui­cides.

Ahead of the town hall, Cas­tro ad­dressed a unity lun­cheon and de­clared that Trump has “cho­sen to put a tar­get on the back of the Latino com­mu­nity, espe­cially our im­mi­grant com­mu­nity.”

O’Rourke: ‘A move­ment’ will de­feat Trump

O’Rourke, who has sagged in the polls, was asked why he was stay­ing in the race in­stead of mak­ing an­other run for U.S. Se­nate in Texas.

O’Rourke said he wanted to serve the coun­try “in the most con­se­quen­tial po­si­tion pos­si­ble.”

He said what he learned from los­ing his 2018 U.S. Se­nate race in Texas to Repub­li­can Ted Cruz was that if Democrats go ev­ery­where, they can do “nearly the im­pos­si­ble.”

He talked about lead­ing a grass­roots move­ment across the coun­try, claim­ing “a move­ment, not a per­son” will de­feat Trump.

O’Rourke said Trump has be­come close to “strong­men and dic­ta­tors” and vowed as pres­i­dent he would meet chal­lenges with friends and al­lies across the globe.

“I want to make sure that we el­e­vate the pri­or­ity of this hemi­sphere in for­eign pol­icy,” he said.

O’Rourke ex­pressed his gratitude to Bor­der Pa­trol agents but said that gratitude was not a li­cense to mis­treat peo­ple.

“There has to be over­sight, there has to be ac­count­abil­ity, there has to be jus­tice,” he said.

Gab­bard, Jill Bi­den ad­dress con­fer­ence

In a sep­a­rate ap­pear­ance at the con­ven­tion, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gab­bard of Hawaii spoke at a break­fast hon­or­ing mil­i­tary vet­er­ans.

She said Trump “pays a lot of lip ser­vice to our vet­er­ans, to our troops,” but “at the very same time he is de­port­ing ser­vice mem­bers who have vol­un­teered to serve this coun­try.”

“At the very same time his ad­min­is­tra­tion is re­ject­ing cit­i­zen­ship ap­pli­ca­tions from our ser­vice mem­bers at a much higher rate than ap­pli­ca­tions from civil­ians. How is that sup­port­ing our troops?”

Jill Bi­den, the wife of for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, spoke about ed­u­ca­tion is­sues. She has been teach­ing for 30 years, in­clud­ing while her hus­band served with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

“My stu­dents keep me grounded that ev­ery­thing we did in the Oba­maBi­den ad­min­is­tra­tion mat­tered,” she said.

“We need lead­ers who have a vi­sion for a bet­ter path for­ward,” she said. “We need ed­u­ca­tion poli­cies that come from class­rooms, not board­rooms. That’s what I keep say­ing to Joe, ‘We have to lis­ten to the teach­ers.’ I don’t want our teach­ers talked down to, I want them to speak up and to have their ideas heard.”

MIKE DE SISTI/MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

The crowd lis­tens to Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren’s town hall seg­ment Thurs­day dur­ing the League of United Latin Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens’ na­tional con­ven­tion in Mil­wau­kee. Other Democrats also ap­peared.

MIKE DE SISTI/MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Ver­mont lit into Don­ald Trump, call­ing the pres­i­dent “a bigot, a racist, a xeno­phobe.”

HAN­NAH SCHROEDER/JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

Ex-hous­ing sec­re­tary Julián Cas­tro defended his plan to de­crim­i­nal­ize il­le­gally cross­ing the south­ern bor­der.

MIKE DE SISTI/JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

For­mer Con­gress­man Beto O’Rourke vowed to “lead the ef­fort of rewrit­ing the im­mi­gra­tion laws in our own im­age.”

MIKE DE SISTI/MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

“I will stop the cri­sis at the bor­der,” El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts told the town hall au­di­ence Thurs­day.

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