LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) told a crowded hall at Doña Maria’s Famous Tamales restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip that “we have a president of the United States that has consistently vilified … immigrants.”
Harris panned President Donald Trump’s new immigration policy, which he introduced earlier at the White House. The president proposed shifting from a family unification-based system to one that awarded points based on skill and merit.
“The idea that you’re gonna start categorizing folks, that there’s gonna be a hierarchy now? … This is a nation that was founded on a principle that we articulated in 1776 — that we are all equal, and should be treated that way,” Harris said.
Asked by a student what her own immigration plan was, Harris referred to her support for bipartisan immigration bills, which she said had no chance to becoming law with President Trump in office. She promised to tackle immigration reform and protection for beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on “day one” in office.
The event was hosted by Hispanics in Politics, which claims to be the state’s oldest Latino political organization. The introduction to Harris emphasized the community’s frustration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the ongoing challenge of members of the community being deported after being arrested for relatively minor offenses.
Harris spent the day campaigning in Nevada, which is the third state on the calendar in the Democratic Party primary in February 2020 — right after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries. The Silver State is always hotly contested — not just in the general election, where it is always a potential “swing state,” but also at the primary stage. In 2008, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s campaign complained that the other side used “strong-arm tactics.”
With former vice president Joe Biden making an aggressive pitch to black voters in South Carolina — the fourth state on the primary calendar — Harris is working hard to shore up her support among minority voters. Earlier Thursday, she addressed a local Asian-American and Pacific Islander group, noting that her Indian heritage meant she could become the first Asian-American president in U.S. history, and accusing Trump of ‘“creating hierarchies among immigrants.”
In 2016, Harris faced a similar challenge in her race for U.S. Senate against then-Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). (In California, where all candidates from all parties compete in a common “jungle” primary, the general election often features two candidates from the same party, usually Democrats.) While Sanchez billed herself as the champion of the Latino community, Harris worked hard to cultivate Latino support and eventually outpaced her rival by an 8% margin.
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, who is Mexican-American, has also made a concerted effort to recruit Latino voters to his cause, but has yet to gain traction in polls of Democratic primary voters.
Harris said the most important challenge facing the country was the absence of truth, leading to “distrust” among Americans “in their government and its institutions and leaders.” One truth, she said, was that “America’s econom is not working for working people.” She promised to repeal President Donald Trump’s tax cut “on day one” in office.
Harris, a former local prosecutor and California attorney general, also spoke about the need for criminal justice reform, and said — to applause — she supported “Medicare for All,” which she said would provide affordable health care to all.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.