We’ve seen a president transform economic frustration into political xenophobia and racism – and it has to stop. We’ve seen an administration that makes it a priority to single out hard working Americans, soldiers, teachers, and community members based on arbitrary social criteria and deny them the dignity and rights our Constitution affords them. Unsurprisingly, this administration is underserving the underserved.
New Hampshire’s motto, ‘Live Free or Die’ is a proclamation that our freedoms and civil liberties are the defining characteristics of being American. Regardless of the color of our skin, who we love and marry, the gods we worship, our gender identity, our country of origin, the language we speak, or our physical ability, we all deserve dignity and are entitled to the freedoms outlined in our Constitution.
Across the U.S., from our Main Street economies, to our bustling technology hubs – from our pot-luck church dinners to our own dinner tables – our diversity has always been our strength, and it enriches us as a people.
This is why I will keep fighting for the underserved and vulnerable – I will doggedly protect one’s rights whenever they are threatened – in the schools, in the courts, in the boardroom, in doctors office, and in the privacy of one’s home.
I spent 18 years working with the criminal justice system in New Hampshire – I’ve seen men and women risk their lives to protect their neighbors, and yet I’ve seen abuses of the system that too often puts the poor and minorities at risk. Our prisons are over crowded and disproportionately people of color – and yet we continue to see corporate interests gain favor and install a private prison system that profits off prisoner headcount. Sweeping criminal justice reform is not possible unless we confront these special interests and the corporate class.
Immigration Rights and Reform
America was the first nation in history built as a collection of people bound by shared political convictions rather than a common ethnicity or religion. Americans believed in a government by the people that committed itself to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For centuries, that American dream inspired millions of people from around the world to seek the freedom and solace of American shores. Today, the overwhelming majority of Americans trace their roots back to immigrant ancestors, and I am no different.
Like so many others, my grandparents Arturo and Gemma Soldati, came to America with same aspirational dream: a better life for themselves and their family, free from tyranny and religious persecution. America has always rewarded hard work, and my grandparents’ American dreams came true. It is that same dream that inspires immigrants today to make the often dangerous and harrowing journey to America and to wait years and sometimes decades for citizenship. Americans know that immigrants are our neighbors and our friends, they are members of our congregation, they are the parents of our children’s friends, and they only want what our grandparents wanted — the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Immigrants are not only a crucial part of the American economy, they are a fundamental to America’s identity as a nation dedicated to prosperity and freedom.
Congress must ask now to confirm and protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. These young people are American in every sense, except on paper. They arrived to America as children, by no fault of their own. To be covered under the DACA program, these folks must go through extensive background checks. Not a single one of them have a criminal record. Upwards of 90% of them are employed. Many are students. Some are even serving our country in uniform. We made a promise to these remarkable young people that they could stay in America legally and build a life for themselves. It is out duty to honor these Undocumented Americans and keep our promise. Congress must act on DACA now.