"Our Culture Will Prevail Against Hatred": Arizona Activist Responds to Trump's Immigration Speech

StorySeptember 01, 2016
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Carlos Garcia

executive director of Puente Arizona, a grassroots human rights movement for migrant justice.

Laura Carlsen

director of the Mexico City-based Americas Program of the Center for International Policy.

Hours after traveling to Mexico City, Trump gave a major speech on immigration in Phoenix, Arizona, where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump vowed to build a massive wall along the Mexican border and to begin deporting millions of immigrants as soon as he takes office, if elected in November. During the fiery speech, he vowed to deport 2 million people within his first hour in office. According to an analysis by The Washington Post, Trump’s new deportation plan would target more than 6 million individuals for immediate removal. For more, we speak with Carlos García, executive director of Puente Arizona.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s turn to Carlos García, who was at the other end, when Trump flew in his plane from Mexico to Phoenix, where he gave this fiery speech. He certainly wasn’t the Trump—what Trump sounded like standing next to the Mexican president. Talk about the protest you had organized outside and then your response to what he said.

CARLOS GARCÍA: Hello, yes. I think our protest was, again, showing our resilience, our culture. What we aimed to to do yesterday was say we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere. I think what we heard from Donald Trump was nothing new. We’ve heard and he’s double down on the racism and bigotry that he’s spewed before. I think the risk now is that there could have been some progressives who were watching this and maybe had seen some common sense in what Donald Trump was saying. I think the risk we’re having now is speaking, as to the border, as if a wall doesn’t already exist. The border is not only secure, but it’s a death trap to our people. It’s a place where indigenous rights are being trampled, of the tribes that live in those places.

And so, there’s a risk now that the deporter-in-chief, President Obama, who’s deported close to 3 million people, now seems OK. And as you hear the voice of Margarita on your headlines of the women who are detained in Berks, you realize that it’s not Donald Trump who put them there, but it’s the current administration. And so, I think President Obama, now seeing the reality that a President Trump is a possibility, has a responsibility to decide whether he’s going to hand over the keys to the biggest, baddest deportation machine ever created in this country to a person like Donald Trump, who’s specifically targeting, scapegoating and almost inciting a race war within this country.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Carlos, I wanted to ask you, in terms of some of the stuff that Trump said—first of all, if you could comment on the warm-up speakers, especially Joe Arpaio, because Joe Arpaio—there was Rudy Giuliani who spoke, Jeff Sessions. Before them, Joe Arpaio was on the stage. And he, of course, represents, to millions of Latinos across the country, the worst aspects of American policy at the local level, but also to Trump’s vow to immediately end the executive orders of President Obama for both the DREAMers as well as for their parents.

CARLOS GARCÍA: Yes. So, once again, what Trump was saying is a reality for us here in Arizona. Sheriff Arpaio has been in power since 1992 and has gone after our communities in the same ways that Donald Trump is speaking of doing—community raids, where he would flood an entire immigrant community with his deputies acting as immigration officers, and the federal government working alongside with them. I think SB 1070 has—in the state of Arizona, continues to be legalized racial profiling. We continue to live in the conditions that Trump is putting out there. I think there is the possibility that things could be worse. There’s a possibility that Donald Trump comes in, takes away the deferred action, some of the small gains that were made by the immigrant rights movement.

But I think, like we showed in our protest yesterday, we’re not going to allow that to happen. We’re here. We’re strong. We’re organizing. Our culture will prevail against this hatred. And also in the headlines, you heard there’s a city ID that passed in the city of Phoenix, the first pro-migrant positive policy that we’ve seen in my lifetime in the state of Arizona. And so, as this—as Trump seems to be rising, we’re fighting and pushing to end Arpaio’s reign of terror, like we’ve ended Russell Pearce, Jan Brewer and the bigots before them.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, Trump also vowed that he would bring back the Secure Communities program of the federal government, the 287(g) program, that he would also—that he would also cut off federal funds to any city that declares itself a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. I mean, the litany of changes that he has vowed to institute if he becomes president, I found astonishing last night.

CARLOS GARCÍA: It’s definitely astonishing. I think he’s gone back and done his homework. And he’s found, unfortunately, those programs—287(g), Secure Communities—come from the 1996 immigration laws pushed by Bill Clinton. I think there is a roadmap that’s been put out there on how to get rid of us. It started with those 1996 laws. It was expanded by the war on terror, President Bush, and now, again, a creation of the biggest deportation machine by this administration. The tools are there for Donald Trump to make this a reality. I think, once again, it’s not only on the voters or what the results are going to be in November, but the current administration has some responsibilities to look at itself, to—how does it feel about having women and children in detention, like the women you see at Berks? How does it feel about handing over these tools of deportation to President Trump?

AMY GOODMAN: Carlos García, how do you explain Arpaio’s victory in the primary on Tuesday? I mean, this is a man who, what, a federal judge is asking that Arpaio be prosecuted for contempt of court after U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow found Arpaio intentionally violated various orders rooted in a racial-profiling case. What is the response of the people of Arizona? And also, this big push right now, where you have anchors across Spanish media, who usually compete with each other, all together in a major ad campaign pushing Latinos to vote, trying to get 100,000 votes, people signed up by Election Day?

CARLOS GARCÍA: Well, we saw—on the Republican primaries, we saw, actually, more than 30 percent of the Republican vote not support Sheriff Arpaio. Again, this is a sheriff that is facing criminal charges, now at the hands of the Department of Justice, can come down and arrest him at any moment, who has terrorized our community for so long. There’s an opportunity to take him out this November, and to take him out in what—in the conditions that we set forth, to make sure that it’s not only Sheriff Arpaio, the person, who is being voted out or who’s being removed from office, but it’s the culture, it’s the terror, and it’s the damage that he’s created in our community that needs to go with him. There needs to be a new day, and our communities are fighting to make that happen. We will be standing together, whether it’s to push the communities to vote, whether it’s to be on the streets to make sure that the harm is not being brought to us, and continue to organize and push against the policies, again, that Trump is talking about, but are in reality here in Maricopa County with Sheriff Arpaio and then the national deportation machine that already exists.

AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, Laura Carlsen, your view of Trump’s speech from the other side of the border, from Mexico City? And you just also put out a report.

LAURA CARLSEN: Trump gave a speech that seemed to reconcile some of his views by praising—over-the-top praise for Mexicans, but he didn’t change a single one of his positions, all of which are not only offensive to Mexico, but they’re disastrous to Mexico in economic terms, and they’re disastrous to the United States. And when he went back to Arizona, he began and ended his speech with illegal alien criminals and painted a picture as if all crime in the United States were the responsibility of undocumented migrants to the United States. So we’re seeing this increase in this manipulation of fear and hatred in this campaign, and Peña Nieto offered Trump the opportunity to give a veneer of legitimacy to these views when he received him here in Mexico City. And that will go down in history as a dark day in Mexico.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us, Laura Carlsen, joining us from Mexico City, the Center for International Policy, and Carlos García, joining us from Phoenix, with Puente Arizona.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go further south to Brazil. The democratically elected president was officially ousted and a new president sworn in. Many are calling it a coup. And then we’ll talk about Puerto Rico. Stay with us.

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