Capitol Alert

Visionary or divisive? Californians react to Donald Trump’s speech

What you should know from Trump’s first speech to Congress

President Donald Trump delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. The president promised to deliver a message of unity during the address.
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President Donald Trump delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. The president promised to deliver a message of unity during the address.

Here is some reaction from California officeholders and groups to President Donald Trump’s address fr to Congress Tuesday night.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield

“President Trump and the Republican Party have a vision for America. It does not distinguish between race, religion, or economic status. It is shared equally as part of the social compact for every American. All Americans should have the opportunity of a job, good schools, safe communities, and basic respect for no other reason than because they are American. We owe this to every citizen—and we will deliver.

“At this moment in history, we have a bold agenda. We are a wealthy nation with a broken health care system and unequal opportunities for success—we need greater access to care and good-paying American jobs. We are a strong country facing rising terrorism and growing uncertainty abroad—we must rebuild a military that is feared by all. We are an innovative and courageous people leaving too many of our fellow citizens behind—we must afford them the dignity of lifting themselves up. United as Americans, we can do all of this and more, and this is what we will work for every single day.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California

“Behind the political rhetoric tonight was an affirmation of this President’s divisive agenda and a complete lack of substance and specifics.

“Tonight, the President failed to provide comfort to the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers and their families who live under constant fear of deportation in California and across the country. Treating all immigrants like criminals disparages the millions of incredibly hardworking and patriotic families who simply want a chance at the American dream.

“The President failed to provide assurances to the 5 million Californians who rely on the Affordable Care Act for their health insurance. Let’s be clear – access to health care is not the guarantee of health care. The American people are counting on us to improve and build on what we’ve made, not go back to a time when insurance companies could discriminate against women or those with a preexisting condition.

“And the President failed to speak to refugees, many of whom have been vetted for two years, but are now facing a country that denies them entry. I sat with refugees in California who were detained in airports for hours with their families and lawyers on the other side of a door. This is wrong and it makes us less safe.

“The President said tonight that ‘we are witnessing a renewal of the American spirit.’ And I believe that renewal lives in the millions of Americans who are standing up to attempts to rip away progress and go back on our ideals. That is the chorus that has become an earthquake. We must continue to fight for an inclusive America that extends the ladder of economic opportunity and lives up to our core values.”

Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento

“Tonight’s speech was full of empty promises from the President.

“President Trump made clear his intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no viable replacement, which would devastate the health and economic security of families across our country. A Republican repeal would create chaos for the millions of people who depend on the ACA for everything from mental health services to cancer treatments. I will continue to work along with my Democratic colleagues to protect the care of Americans, because people’s lives depend on us fighting for their coverage.

“The President continues to cling to fear-based rhetoric that creates a false choice between our safety and our compassion. America’s diversity is one of our greatest strengths and our ability to welcome the best and the brightest has helped our economy lead the world.

“The American people deserve real results from this Administration. We should be making strong investments in innovation and research that give Americans the skills to compete for the jobs of tomorrow. We must remain committed to our inclusive values and the future prosperity of all.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista

“I was encouraged by the bold agenda put forward by the President tonight. He is right that we need to get more Americans back to work and that we need immigration policies that allow us to keep the best and the brightest from around the world. He’s also right that we need a federal government that keeps its promises to our veterans and that we need to bring real reforms to stop health care costs from spiraling out of control.

To make these worthy goals a reality, however, we all must heed the President’s call to come together. Now is the time to put aside our differences and focus instead on what unites us, listening to one another, and focusing on delivering results that will improve the lives of all Americans. I look forward to continuing to work with this Administration, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the American people, to advance these goals that will restore a freer, stronger, and more prosperous America.”

Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert

“In President Trump’s address, I agree with investing in our infrastructure, supporting our law enforcement, and providing better care for veterans who have honorably served our nation. However, I was disappointed and extremely troubled to hear he wants to implement old, failed health care ideas that will make middle class families pay more for less coverage. I am also deeply concerned by the demonization of immigrants who contribute so much to our local economy. Our country faces many challenges, but we will overcome and move forward. We always do.”

Crime Victims United

“Crime Victims United would like to commend President Trump for his strong support of innocent victims of crime. By creating the office of V.O.I.C.E. he has shown an unprecedented support of crime victims. Not since President Reagan, who commissioned the task force on crime victims, have they had this level of support from the President. As the leading crime victims organization in the nation - we thank you, we commend you, and we stand ready to work with you.”

David Huerta, president of SEIU United Service Workers West

“Trump’s exploitation of victimized families is shameful and offensive.

“SEIU California’s members will fight his efforts to criminalize generations of immigrants who share the same values America was founded on: freedom from persecution, hard work, and dreams of a better life for their children.

“Americans are already deeply troubled by hate crimes in the headlines, and Trump is fanning the flames of discrimination. Demonizing statements like these have real consequences and are empowering the darkest corners of this country.

“In just five weeks of his presidency, Trump’s attempts to divide and marginalize our communities have been met with unprecedented mobilization in our streets and determination to uphold America’s inclusive values.

“His inflammatory statements and behavior will only strengthen our resistance and our dedication to unity, justice and equality for all.”

Arturo Vargas, executive director, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials

“President Donald Trump presented his vision for the direction of our country in the coming months and four years. As Americans we can all support the President’s aim to build a ‘brighter future for our nation’, but we cannot achieve that goal without finding common ground on the most pressing issues facing our country today.

“Choosing to make clear that our nation will not tolerate crimes motivated by hate or evil in any form is a good first step in President Trump’s efforts to bring Americans together. Putting an end to the harmful and inflammatory rhetoric that has aimed to separate instead of unite us must come next as he prepares to work with Congress to put words into action, especially as it relates to his call for comprehensive immigration reform.

“As an organization that works with immigrants and their families, we know all too well just how great the need is to modernize our antiquated and flawed immigration system. An overhaul of our immigration laws, however, will only work if we strike a balance between protecting our national security interests and treating immigrants in a humane manner that upholds our values. To do otherwise would be a disservice to not only our economy, but also our rich history as a nation of immigrants.

“America at its best has always been a melting pot that has welcomed immigrants willing to come here, work hard and contribute to our economy and democracy. It is only when we have moved far away from this moral imperative that the history books have frowned on our actions as a nation.

“President Trump has a unique opportunity to write history by successfully acting on a critical issue that has evaded both parties for far too long. In order to alter the course of our nation’s immigration laws for the foreseeable future though, he and Congress will need to compromise.

“The road towards a balanced and bipartisan approach to immigration reform that simultaneously address public safety concerns while providing a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants who are here contributing to our economy will not be easy, but it is one that must be taken for the good of the American people.

“Americans and our Latino elected officials are tired of partisan bickering and political theatre. We want action from the President and Congress that acknowledges the significant contributions immigrants have made to our nation’s past, present and future by tackling immigration reform once and for all.

“While we wait for action on this timely issue, we will continue to work to further the mission of our founder Congressman Edward R. Roybal by equipping our nation’s Latino elected officials with the tools and information they need to help address the fears and concerns voiced by their immigrant constituents at this time of uncertainty and by moving other issue priorities forward. Issues mentioned in the address like quality affordable child care, access to high paying jobs and a strong national infrastructure are all policies that our nation’s Latino leaders can find middle ground with the President on in order to help their constituents and all Americans.

“Going forward, we will continue our efforts to increase political participation within the Latino community by hosting citizenship workshops for those immigrants who are ready to become full participants in our democracy and pushing for a strong Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice that will ensure the sacred right to vote afforded to U.S. citizens remains accessible to the nation’s second largest population group and all eligible Americans. In addition, we will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to provide the Census Bureau with the funding needed to produce a full and accurate count of Latinos and all Americans in Census 2020.

“Any plan for a ‘brighter future’ for America cannot happen without the success of Latinos and immigrants. It is time that we look back at our history and remember that immigrants, Latino elected officials and the Latino community as a whole are an asset, not a hindrance. The sooner we do so, the better off our country and future will be.”

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