Martin Wisckol, The Orange County Register, October 11, 2017
At a UC Irvine rally for young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday continued her push for a measure to provide them with permanent legal status — a “clean” bill unfettered by stricter immigration enforcement provisions called for by the White House.
Democratic House and Senate leaders have said they are open to including some border security measures in a Dream Act that would provide legal status, but Harris and other speakers said Wednesday that there should be no such strings attached and a path to citizenship is an essential part of such legislation.
“This is about a fight for the future of this country, believing in the values upon which this country was founded,” Harris said.
The freshman Democratic senator from San Francisco, whose profile has been rising since taking office in January and who is regularly mentioned as a possible 2020 presidential candidate.
“The path right now is rocky. It is difficult. It is hard,” Harris said. “We are witnessing things that we can only describe as awful and wrong, and mean-spirited. But that’s OK … Because we know this is about doing the right thing. We know this is about all the young people, who were brought here, some before they could walk or talk.”
On Sunday, the White House issued a “framework” for such legislation, with provisions including a wall along the southern border, 10,000 new immigration agents, tougher rules for those seeking asylum and a crackdown on unaccompanied minors entering the country from Central America.
While Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement flatly dismissing the demands, they said that they were open to “reasonable border security measures.” That was a reiteration of a position that didn’t sit well last month with young immigrants at a college event attended by Pelosi in San Francisco, which saw the congresswoman make an early departure after being shouted down by those concerned that she was too willing to compromise.
Harris, on the other hand, was clearly seen as an ally by most on hand Wednesday, including the clergy, faculty and DACA students — a blend of Koreans and Latinos — who also spoke.