New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the latest Democrat to take steps toward a 2020 bid for the White House, said that Democrats would be “willing to talk about” a pathway to citizenship for the so-called “Dreamers,” which is further than what’s offered in President Donald Trump’s latest immigration and border security proposal to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“Does that sound to you like he's moving a bit and what's your reaction to that?” asked “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
“It doesn't sound like he's moving at all,” Gillibrand said. “If he really wants to work on comprehensive immigration reform, open the government and then sit down with Democratic leaders to actually work on the stuff that needs to get done. People need a pathway to citizenship, and we have 3 million 'Dreamers' in this country and we should be protecting these young people. They came here through no fault of their own and they've made lives.
“Why wouldn't you welcome them here to make sure they can have a pathway to citizenship? That's something we're willing to talk about, but for President Trump to hold hostage public servants, it's wrong. It's morally wrong.”
On Saturday, in an address from the White House, Trump proposed an immigration and border security plan in an effort to end the shutdown and “solve the crisis on the southern border.”
Along with other border security measures that both parties support, the core of the plan includes $5.7 billion to build an additional 230 miles of a see-through steel barrier system -- “or a wall.”
“This is not a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea. These are steel barriers in high-priority locations,” Trump said.
However, Gillibrand said Trump’s “idea for a wall is ineffective and it’s not going to make us safer.”
“I will support border security. I will support investment to make our country strong and safe. All Democrats care about national security and border security. But what he’s done is he’s confused America. He’s tried to create fear and division.”
In an effort to entice Democrats to support the deal, he also proposed extending protections from deportation for three years for some 700,000 so-called “Dreamers,” children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents who were given a protected status under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, and for Temporary Protected Status recipients whose status is currently facing expiration.
Gillibrand said Trump is “just taking a small section of [the “Dreamers”] -- those are the DACA recipients -- and he’s only giving them a temporary stay,” while Gillibrand says she wants to see a pathway to citizenship for all “Dreamers,” which includes immigrants who would have been eligible for DACA, but didn’t actually apply for that status.
“Just for a moment think about the people that he is affecting. I’ve met with those ‘Dreamers’ and they have so much anxiety, they have so much fear."
She said Trump “has no compassion for anyone. He has no empathy for the struggles and the hardships that he’s placing on people whether it’s the government workers who aren’t getting paid or the ‘Dreamers’ who are contributing to our country in amazing ways. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself.
“You must protect all the 'Dreamers.' That was something we were willing to talk about. That is still there for him. The fact that he’s saying three years just for DACA just shows that he’s not serious and he doesn’t actually care about moving the country forward.”
She then explained that it's one of the reasons she's running for president.
“We have to stand up to this president when he’s wrong," she told Raddatz. "The country has to reclaim this democracy, has to open government, put the power of the people back in our hands.”
Raddatz asked Gillibrand about her views when she was a congresswoman for upstate New York’s rural 20th Congressional District, which included opposition to amnesty for undocumented immigration.
“I know you’ve said you were embarrassed about those statements but are you confident Democratic primary voters believe you?” Raddatz asked.
“I do, because the truth is what President Trump is doing at the border today is inhumane. Immigration has always been our strength; our diversity is our strength,” she said.
“How do those voters believe you? Maybe you’ll change your mind about something if you became president,” Raddatz pressed.
Gillibrand responded, “Well, Martha, 10 years ago when I became a senator, my job was to represent 20 million people, 20 million people in other places around the state that might have had different concerns and worries and fears than my upstate New York rural district. And so, I listened to them.
"And so I would tell voters, look at my heart, see who I am. I believe I have the courage, and the compassion and the fearless determination to do what’s right even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard. I’m a fighter; I’ve always been a fighter. I will fight for your kids as hard as I would fight for my own and that’s why I am going to run for president."