Brooklyn Boro

Clinton reveals immigration reform vision at Downtown Brooklyn conference

December 15, 2015 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hillary Clinton spoke in Downtown Brooklyn on Monday, delivering a keynote address to delegates at the eighth annual National Immigration Integration Conference. Eagle photo by Andy Katz
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Frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed her vision to help immigrants and refugees find a secure landfall in the U.S. during her keynote address to delegates at the eighth annual National Immigration Integration Conference at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge in Downtown Brooklyn.

Clinton took the stage Monday amid a standing ovation and waited, smiling, while Illinois representative and long-term immigrant advocate Luiz Gutierrez, of Illinois’s fourth district, gave her an enthusiastic introduction.

The former senator from New York opened her remarks by reminding the audience of the role immigration has played in creating New York City’s vast and diverse metropolis: “We would not be New York without the generations of immigrants from everywhere,” she said.

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Clinton then cited the experience of a young woman, Lorella Praeli, whose family had traveled from Peru to obtain medical treatment for Praeli when she was little. The Praeli family remained in the U.S., but when Praeli began to apply for merit scholarships based on a sterling record of achievement in high school, she discovered that she was undocumented. Rather than live in fear, Clinton recounted, Praeli came forward publicly and joined the United We Dream movement, which advocates on behalf of children brought to the U.S.

“Lorella’s story,” she concluded, “like so many others, remind us of who we are as a people … we are a country where people of all backgrounds, all religions, all races, can make a home. America was built by immigrants.”

Without naming names, Clinton denounced Republican presidential candidates who, she claimed, take advantage of the fearful climate fostered by stories in the news: “Candidates for president are calling immigrants drug runners and rapists.” She had especially harsh words for those capitalizing on the shootings in San Bernardino: “stoking those fears more and turning people against Muslim Americans, saying some really hateful, hurtful things.”

Throughout her remarks, Clinton returned to the specter of families, hard-working, law-abiding and well established in the U.S., being sundered by parents suddenly denounced and deported.

“If you work hard, if you love this country, if you contribute to it and want nothing more than to build a good future for yourselves and your children, we should give you a way to come forward and become a citizen,” she told the delegates.

Twice activists attempted to disrupt her speech, but were escorted from the grand ballroom without further incident. According to the Associated Press, the hecklers expressed anger at the links between major banks and private detention centers. Clinton ignored them and continued.

The candidate closed her speech by promising to defend DACA (Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability), President Barack Obama’s executive actions intended to keep families with undocumented parents and which are currently subject to injunctions based on lawsuits from several states intact.

“I believe in an America where everyone is treated with dignity, no matter who you are or where you come from. And where undocumented children who have been here their whole lives and feel like Americans are treated like Americans, and where families are not ripped apart, but are treated humanely and respectfully,” she concluded, to another standing ovation.

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