North Carolina

At Latino community forum, Elizabeth Warren says she’s open to suspending deportations

Corrected on Nov. 8, 2019. See story for details.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has supported focusing U.S. deportation efforts on criminals and national security threats rather than all immigrants in the country illegally.

At a rally Friday in Raleigh, Warren went farther, saying she would be open to a moratorium on deportations.

“I am open to suspending deportations particularly as a way to push Congress for comprehensive immigration reform,” Warren said. She said she believes “that when ICE comes into our communities, takes our neighbors, our friends, our family members, that they do not make this country safer.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection should be focused on “real threats” from terrorism, contraband, and the shipping of deadly narcotic drugs like fentanyl, Warren said.

“Tearing families apart is not that,” Warren said.

Warren spoke to about 100 people at Umstead Park United Church of Christ in Raleigh, during a forum focused on the Massachusetts senator’s stances on political topics relevant to the Latino electorate.

Read this story in Spanish. Lee esta historia en español.

Her comments about deportation came in response to an audience question by Rafaela Solano, 38, a mother of five who told the senator in tears that her husband is being detained at the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia with a threat of deportation to Mexico after serving a year-long jail sentence for a drug-related offense. Solano asked if Warren would support a deportation moratorium.

(A previous version of this story incorrectly described the state of Solano’s husband’s case.)

Warren did not specify if such a suspension would apply to immigrants with criminal records.

Warren also didn’t go as far as rival Bernie Sanders, who said Thursday that he would put a moratorium in place on deportations and end ICE raids on his first day in office. Sanders, a Vermont senator, says the moratorium would be in place until a review of immigration practices can be done.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis tweeted in response to a video of Warren’s statement that her “radical, liberal agenda would be a disaster for North Carolina and the country,” calling it a “dangerous” proposal.

The comments also drew an emailed statement from President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign saying, “Warren is proposing regressive socialist plans that would dismantle our economic gains and hurt Latino families in North Carolina and across the country.”

Addressing Puerto Rico, health care

The group gathered was smaller than the crowd of more than 3,500 who attended a Thursday evening rally for Warren at Broughton High School.

The national Latino civic engagement organization Mijente organized the event as part of a series of conversations with presidential candidates titled “El Chisme 2020” (roughly “The Gossip 2020” in Spanish) to ask them about immigration and other topics relevant to Latinos, whom Mijente leaders said are “invisible” on the main debate stage.

The event was simultaneously translated into Spanish and was organized in collaboration with local Latino immigrant advocacy group Siembra NC, which played a role in bringing audience members — and entertainment, in the form of a regional Mexican dance group from Greensboro performing before Warren took the stage.

Mijente campaign director Priscilla González led the event and questioned Warren, including about the candidate’s support for democracy and economic support for Latin American countries, specifically Chile and those in Central America.

González asked why she had voted in 2016 against PROMESA, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, which established an oversight board to assist the struggling island in its government debt crisis.

She said the law didn’t alleviate the island’s economic problems, and criticized it for putting an unelected board in charge.

And Warren said of supporting legislation to cancel Puerto Rico’s $74 billion debt: “I’m 100% there.”

Warren supported providing all immigrants in the country, whether or not they have legal authorization to be here, with health care as part of her Medicare for All plan. She said it is part of her overall immigration reform plans that would allow for economic growth by letting immigrants become citizens and join the workforce.

Warren joins rival candidate Bernie Sanders in including these immigrants in a broad single-payer health-care policy.

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Aaron Sánchez-Guerra is the Growth and Business reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers real estate, business, and development in the Triangle area. He previously worked at WLRN Public Media in Miami and as a freelance journalist in Raleigh and Charlotte covering the Latino population and related topics. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, a native Spanish speaker, and was born in Mexico.