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Published On: Thu, Mar 2nd, 2017

Mi Familia Vota’s Ben Moterroso attacks Trump speech: ‘Doubles Down On Toxic Rhetoric Targeting Immigrants and Refugees’

President Donald Trump addressed a joint session of Congress with a plan for American families thick with nativist rhetoric and short on facts.  While he began his address condemning hate crimes targeting Jewish communities across the country, he doubled down on his toxic rhetoric scapegoating nearly eleven million aspiring Americans with his promise to use extensive government resources and federal enforcement to enact his mass deportation agenda.

“Not even Trump’s faint call for immigration reform during a joint session of Congress has credibility in our communities, as he continued to paint immigrants as criminals,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota.

Overshadowing Trump’s call for unity and an immigration plan with multiple caveats, are a series of actions that have put millions in the cross hairs of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Not a day goes by without alarming details being revealed about the lengths to which these coercive federal agents are willing to go to deport parents dropping off their children at school or workers heading to their place of employment. Trump continues to offer a false narrative on who is being deported, painting mothers and fathers as hardened criminals, when all advocates have been asking for since the days of President George H.W. Bush is a way for people to gain legal status.

President Trump speaking at the Joint Session of Congress, Feb 26 2017 photp/ screenshot video coverage

“You can’t claim to support immigration reform when you’re holding eleven million people hostage,” Monterroso said. “What President Trump should do is stop senseless deportations. Instead, tonight he continued to outline a punitive system in which the promise of immigration reform will be out of reach for the eleven million caught in his deportation dragnet.”

During a background interview earlier in the day with several major news outlets, Trump was quoted as saying, “The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides.” To the millions of mothers and fathers and DACA recipients who have felt a dark cloud cast over them since Trump signed a set of immigration executive orders on January 25th, the words rang hallow. His address to Congress revealed his true intentions.

“Ultimately it is the responsibility of the conservative-controlled Congress to put partisanship aside and pass legislation that would keep families together and strengthen our economy,” stressed Monterroso. “Republicans have stalled efforts at commonsense immigration solutions in the past, but now the leading figure of their party has given them a job to do. We’ll hold them accountable to this job and attend every town hall and call every phone number they have until they give us a plan.”

Additionally, Trump addressed a concern that drove many American voters to seek out their representatives in Congress during the February recess: health care. The strategy Trump outlined to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while still providing uninterrupted coverage to the millions who have benefited from the ACA is undercut by the reality of the House Republican’s plan. The proposed plan includes drastic cost increases for families, the push out of millions of Americans from accessing health coverage, and cutting Medicaid.

“For Latinos, high-quality, affordable health care is the difference between only being able to access emergency care and having access to preventive health care without having to break the bank,” added Monterroso. “With the uninsured rate for Latinos dropping more than any other group, Mi Familia Vota must speak up for those whose lives have been saved as a result of affordable health care. Latino voters will hold their elected officials accountable for whatever plan is ultimately proposed.”

The fear-mongering evident in tonight’s speech comes as no surprise after weeks of executive orders and policy proposal targeting immigrants, refugees, Muslims, women, the LGBT community, and black Americans. While he mentioned only briefly the hate-crime in Kansas that left one Indian engineer wounded and one dead, the growing level of hate crimes committed by white nationalists have become a growing fear for millions of Americans.

“We need a leader who believes in dignity and respect for all,” concluded Monterroso. “The U.S. constitution provides protections to everyone and our President should uphold the law. What we have seen thus far ignites a sense of urgency for Congress to step in and do their job and for concerned residents to continue pressuring their local and federally elected leaders to stay true to our common belief in equal treatment under the law for all.”

Mi Familia Vota is a national non-profit organization that unites Latino, immigrant and allied communities to promote social and economic justice through increased civic participation by promoting citizenship, increasing voter registration, and increasing voter participation. Mi Familia Vota is one of the premiere Latino civic engagement organizations in the country with operations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Texas. For more information visit www.mifamiliavota.org

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