As we continue to discuss President Trump’s State of the Union, we are joined by Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. She attended the address as a guest of New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In September, Archila made headlines when she, along with another woman, Maria Gallagher, confronted Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona in an elevator after he announced his support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Shortly after the confrontation, Sen. Flake called for a delay of the Senate vote pending a limited FBI investigation.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As we continue to discuss President Trump’s State of the Union, we’re joined by Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. She attended the address as a guest of New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
AMY GOODMAN: In September, Ana María Archila made headlines when she, along with another woman, Maria Gallagher, confronted Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona in an elevator after he announced his support of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination confirmation to the Supreme Court. Shortly after the confrontation, Senator Flake called for a delay of the Senate vote pending a limited FBI investigation.
Ana María Archila, how did it feel to be in the chamber in the House of Representatives, what many were calling Pelosi’s House, to hear President Trump? And there, of course, were the Supreme Court justices—not all of them. Justice Alito wasn’t there. Justice Thomas wasn’t there. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wasn’t there. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wasn’t there. But the man you were protesting, Justice Kavanaugh, was, along with Chief Justice Roberts and Gorsuch and Elena Kagan.
ANA MARÍA ARCHILA: Good morning. It was really a night of contrasts. It was both incredible to see the sea of white, of women wearing white, representing both the history of our country, the history of women who have struggled to win the right to vote, and to win the right to represent all of us, and who are actually the ones that are carrying the vision of a new country, a country that is possible, where all of us can live with dignity, like what Representative Omar just talked about, and, on the other hand, there was Kavanaugh sitting there representing the failure of democracy, the inability of politicians, especially men in power, to really allow themselves to listen to the stories of the women they represent, to allow themselves to govern by listening, to imagine that their role is actually to bring the voices of the people they represent, maybe people whose lives they don’t—whose life experiences they don’t share, but whose aspirations they can actually try to understand. So, I saw the presence of Justice Kavanaugh as a reminder of how much work we have to do to make sure that our democracy really works for us.
But I was also sitting there feeling so much gratitude for the wave of women, for the boldness of the leadership of new—especially the new freshman class, that includes Representative Omar; my own congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Rashida Tlaib; and so many other women, who are really speaking to this idea that we can be a country that includes all of us, that we can actually have a future that includes all of us, and a future that like recognizes the abundance of this country and says, in this abundance, we should all be able to have healthcare, we should all be able to have dignified jobs, we should all be able to have time to rest, time for our families, a planet where we have clean air and water.
So, I feel—I felt moved by—I was very aware of how momentous it was and how much the moment was pregnant, in some ways, with possibility. And then Trump was Trump. He was still scapegoating immigrants. He was still telling lies. He was still speaking from both sides of his mouth, both talking about unity and, immediately after that, saying, “Well, we can only be unified if you don’t investigate me.” So, I was just very aware of how much of a contrast we have in this moment.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And if you could give a brief response to his claim, once again, that the country is being invaded by caravans of migrants, and his call for more troops, his direction to have more troops sent to the border?
ANA MARÍA ARCHILA: President Trump has been using immigrants as a scapegoat from the beginning of his campaign, from day one. It is a playbook that has worked for him, because he knows that in the psyche of this country, you can appeal to fear and to a sense of lack of safety to justify the most horrible policies, whether it was slavery, Jim Crow and now his anti-immigrant policies. There is a through line. And there has always—the use of the threat of criminal behavior and especially the use of the threat of danger to the women has been central to kind of racist policymaking in this country. And he’s appealing to that.
I was not at all surprised that he spent so much time talking about the caravan and again spewing lies, when, in reality, there is in fact a crisis. There is a crisis that he has created. There is the crisis of refugees that are coming to our ports of entry, which is exactly what refugees are supposed to do. It’s exactly the legal way. And they are being turned around and sent back into violence and death. There is a crisis because families are being separated, and thousands of children are in cages, and thousands of parents are looking for them without knowing how to find them and reconnect with them. There is a crisis because people who have been in this country for decades, people with TPS, people with other immigration statuses, that Trump has put in danger and has ended, essentially, are now having to imagine having to confront the possibility that they will be—
AMY GOODMAN: And, Ana—
ANA MARÍA ARCHILA: —sent back to a country that is no longer their home. And so, there is a real crisis, and that is Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Ana María, even the latest news, that it is believed thousands more, the government is admitting, children, they don’t even know where they are, that they separated. Finally, we just have 20 seconds, but both you and Congressmember Ocasio-Cortez were wearing pins showing Jakelin Caal Maquín, the 7-year-old migrant girl who died while in U.S. customs, CBP, custody in New Mexico?
ANA MARÍA ARCHILA: Yes, both of us were wearing the face of Jakelin on our hearts, because we want to remind people of the danger of giving Donald Trump a single dollar for his wall and for his anti-immigrant policies. Every dollar that goes to ICE and Border Patrol is a dollar that will result in more deaths at the border, that will result in more families separated. It will result in more children in cages and more deportations. This is not who we are.
AMY GOODMAN: Ana María Archila, I want to thank you for being with us—
ANA MARÍA ARCHILA: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: —whose foot in the door, in the elevator door, of Jeff Flake, when he was going to vote for Justice Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice, led to her invitation to the House of Representatives, and, of course, her years of activism before. Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy.