February 28, 2017
By Rafael Bernal
President Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress was "divisive," according to a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Astrid Silva, an immigration activist from Nevada, delivered a Spanish-language Democratic response to Trump's speech on Tuesday night.
"The United States is not a country guided by hatred, fear, and division, as Trump makes it seem. Our country is guided by respect, hard work, sacrifice, opportunity, and hope," Silva said.
Silva said that Trump made clear in his campaign "that he wanted his supporters to believe that all immigrants are criminals and refugees are terrorists."
“And recently, he directed immigration enforcement agents to arrest and deport any undocumented person they find, essentially legalizing racial profiling and setting in motion his mass deportation plan," Silva continued.
Trump in January signed executive orders enhancing immigration enforcement and imposing a ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, although that order was later blocked by the courts.
In his speech, Trump doubled down on his immigration rhetoric, focusing on border security and immigration enforcement.
"By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone," Trump told Congress.
But Silva said Trump's immigration actions targeted Latinos.
“I’m here representing Democrats, Latinos, and the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are an integral part of this country and who embody the values and the promise of America. The same ones that President Trump is threatening with his mass deportation plan," she said.
Trump Tuesday proposed a new immigration plan that would theoretically allow some undocumented immigrants to remain in the country, but did not go into detail.
"I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws," said Trump in his speech.
Silva questioned Trump's existing immigration actions and asked for comprehensive reform.
“Instead of separating families, President Trump should pass comprehensive immigration reform that honors our country’s tradition of welcoming immigrants," she said.
She called on Trump to focus on growing jobs, improving healthcare, protecting the environment and improving education.
“Democrats understand that we need to protect immigrant families that we need better our infrastructure, that we need better jobs with higher salaries, and that the cost of college tuition is too high," she said.
Silva also criticized Trump's relationship with the media.
“We are living in uncertain times that are completely abnormal. In which the administration constantly questions the media and tries to actively destroy their credibility," she said.
“We can’t let these actions become normalized."
Silva touted Democrats as more understanding of Americans' problems and asked people to support them.
“Democrats want equality, respect, and opportunity for all because we know that our nation is stronger when we treat each other with respect and work together for the common good," she said.
She also used the opportunity to slam Republicans.
“President Trump and Republicans can use calmer rhetoric and appear to moderate, but we know that words are cheap and actions matter."
Source: The Hill