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Senator-Elect Kamala Harris Doubles Down On Commitment To Protect Undocumented Californians

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Senator-elect Kamala Harris, and CHIRLA member Brenda Garcia at Thursday's press conference. (Photo by Julia Wick/LAist)
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Senator-elect Kamala Harris vehemently pledged her support for undocumented Californians and doubled down on her commitment to protect their rights at a press conference Thursday. Addressing a group of immigrant families and activists at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Harris—who said this was her very first time being introduced as "senator-elect"—was welcomed to the stage with cheers of "Sí se pudo."

Harris was elected Tuesday to fill the California Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.

She told the room that California has an "outsized stake" in the national conversation about immigration, explaining that one out of every two Californians was either born outside of the United States or has a parent who was born outside of the United. "This is who we are," the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica said.

"This issue of how we are treating our immigrants and, in particular, our undocumented immigrants, is one of the most critical issues facing our country," Harris said. "It is incumbent on all of us, as patriotic Americans, to do the work of passing comprehensive immigration reform and to do the work of recognizing the American Dream that has been achieved and will be achieved when we do all that is necessary to give the children who were designed by DACA [Deferred Action for Child Arrivals] to have protection, and continue to give them protection," she continued, to great applause.

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Harris sharply criticized the immigration platform of President-elect Donald Trump [a phrase that makes us want to eat Lysol and die, if there ever was one], and called his plans to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it "absolutely unrealistic." However, she said that she remains deeply concerned about deportation policies that might go forward.

She told the crowd that over the past two days she had "spoken to so many parents" whose children had been crying, and asking if they were going to have to leave. "This is real," she said. "We have so many children right now that are in pain, and they literally don't know [if they will have to leave]. Parents are looking at their own children and saying, 'I don't know.'"

"We need to answer that question for them sooner rather than later," she said.

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We love you, Kamala. Thank you for being a ray of hope in bleak times, and reminding us why we love the great state of California—and all Californians, regardless of their immigration status.