Immigration reform, continuation of DACA and health for the undocumented were some of the proposals in the Cal State LA forum

The five Democratic candidates who participated in the presidential forum yesterday at Cal State Los Angeles were very open to give solution, regardless of immigration status, to the problems of the Latino community should they be elected in the next presidential elections.

Entitled “2019 Democratic Presidential forum on Latino Issues”, the forum was attended by the mayor of South Bend (Indiana), Pete Buttigieg; Senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, Senator Kamala Harris and philanthropist Tom Steyer.

Presented by ABC7, in collaboration with La Opinion, the Pat Brown Public Affairs Institute of Cal State LA, CHIRLA Fund and the California Latino Legislative Caucus, the forum was assisted by local groups of activists, politicians and students.

Senator Sanders said that if he was elected president of the United States, he undertakes to reinstate the DACA program for all undocumented youth, including those left out – who are currently 16 years old or younger – as well as their parents.

He also said he would restore the program that allowed Dreamers to travel outside the United States, known as Advance Parole.

The candidate indicated that both programs would be restored on his first day of government, through an executive order.

Then, it would focus on creating access to comprehensive immigration reform for all.

"My goal is to make sure that every undocumented person in this country has a path to citizenship as soon as possible," he said.

Senator Bernie Sanders expressed his position on the DACA program.

Senator Harris offered a similar plan to Sanders and indicated that if elected she will reinstall DACA and expand it for undocumented siblings and parents.

He pledged to ensure the good of undocumented immigrants who contribute to the country's economy.

He also said that the most dysfunctional agency of the United States government is the Department of National Immigration and Customs Security (ICE).

"There must be a complete review of this agency!" Said the senator.

Senator Kamala Harris was one of five candidates.

Health and education

Former Secretary Castro received a shocking question from a young DACA beneficiary.
Soila Rodríguez, 26, said her undocumented father, who has lived in this country for almost two decades, has only seen a doctor twice and was diagnosed with cancer in the last.

The former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro.

"It's something that many immigrants see, we don't have access to health if we don't have money," said Rodriguez, who obtained DACA in 2012.

He noted that Castro's response partially convinced her, as the Democratic candidate promised to include the undocumented in a health plan.

"But he didn't answer the second question, because he didn't say if he would use his executive power to get health coverage soon, because we know that Congress takes a long time," said the young woman.

The philanthropist Tom Steyer proposed to reduce high university student debt through subsidized rates and cancellation of debt for those entering public service.

The philanthropist Tom Steyer. / photos: J. Emilio Flores.

"For people who use their education to help society as teachers, nurses, members of the Armed Forces and others, their debt must be paid after they have completed a certain time in the workforce," he said.

As for the high cost of housing, Mayor Pete Buttigieg pledged to invest $ 430,000 million in affordable housing.

"Part of what we have to do is make sure our economy really works for everyone," said the youngest Democratic candidate in the race (37 years old) and who if elected would be the first openly gay president.

The philanthropist Tom Steyer.
The mayor of South Bend, from the state of Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.

Latin vote recognition

Angelica Salas, director of CHIRLA, said Latinos are looking for a president who respects them and stops the attacks against them.

"It is important that they include us in immigration issues because California has a large population of Latinos," he said.

"We also care about education, housing, university debts and especially our security."

Salas said that any candidate who comes to California to raise funds should take the time to talk with Latinos.

Senator María Elena Durazo, who was in the public, said that more than a third of the Latino vote is in California and candidates cannot afford to ignore voters, especially the undecided.

"With the exception of (Joe) Biden and (Elizabeth) Warren, these five candidates have more presence and support among Latinos," he said, and said that those who ignore this community make a big mistake.

Norma Chavez Peterson, director of the ACLU of San Diego, one of the participants of the invited public said that it is good to hear the opinions of the candidates. She was pleased to see that everyone opposes the separation of families. "A total contrast with the current Administration," he said.

Other issues that were touched were gun control, security and housing.

The invitation was sent in advance to all Democratic candidates of which only the five mentioned confirmed their attendance. The Democratic primary to the presidency will be held in March 2020.


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