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Kamala Harris: ‘We Have to Embrace Our Muslim Brothers and Sisters’

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a debate Tuesday evening that Americans should “embrace our Muslim brothers and sisters” in response to the controversy over Syrian refugee resettlement in the U.S.

Harris leads five California contenders to replace retiring Democrat Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate. The candidates were asked during a debate to define their positions on immigration and refugees, which led to Harris’s response.

Harris called the sentiment of Americans who wish to control the flow of refugees “purely anti-Muslim rhetoric.” She went on to say that “we have to embrace our Muslim brothers and sisters wherever they are and not assume that because of the god they pray to and believe in that they are terrorists that are going to harm us when they come here.”

It was in the southern California city of San Bernardino that two radical Islamic terrorists murdered 14 and injured 23 more last December. Tashfeen Malik entered the U.S. on a K-1 fiancé visa to marry fellow terror attacker Syed Rizwan Farook. Farook attended a mosque associated with the fundamentalist Tablighi Jamaat sect of Islam.

Marco Serrano of Univision asked, “What do you think should be done, if anything, to actually address immigration in this country?”

“If you’re not native American we’re all immigrants,” opened Harris. “Immigration reform and the need for comprehensive immigration reform is the front and center civil rights issue of our day and certainly California has an outsized stake in the outcome of this issue. We have more immigrants than any other state in the country, documented and undocumented.”

Harris claimed that with the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, “California will benefit within three years by $5 billion and 600,000 jobs.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), who is running a close second to Harris in recent polls, answered, “We absolutely need comprehensive immigration reform. It’s the moral imperative of our time. It’s about a good economy. It’s about family values, keeping families together and it’s about homeland security.” Sanchez argued that the security issue had been dealt with, saying Border Patrol went from 4,000 to 24,000. She further argued that doing right by “the families” means “we need to give them papers to be here.”

Republican Tom Del Beccaro, the former state GOP chair, called for attention to the national security component of immigrationand to “forget comprehensive legislation.” He called for visa reform and border security at not only the southern but also the northern border, and at airports.

Another Republican and former party chair, Duf Sundheim, referred to his plan, which calls for a “path to legal status” immediately. The said he disapproved of sanctuary cities.

The third Republican candidate, investor Ron Unz, said that he supports comprehensive immigration reform. He argued that reform must include a “drastic cut in legal immigration levels.” Unz advocated for a 50 percent cut in legal immigration.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana

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