An immigration town hall in Corona by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday drew not concerned constituents, but also a small group of Trump supporters and a member of the Oath Keepers, a national militia group, who could be spotted outside the venue.
The content of the immigration town hall, paneled by a slew of immigration leaders, condemned the language used by President Donald Trump viewed as an attempt to demean female members of Congress either born abroad or from non-white ethnic backgrounds.
According to Ocasio-Cortez, about half the cases opened by her office on behalf of her constituents are immigration-related. She claims that while refugees and undocumented migrants are feeling more roadblocks to asylum, the federal government is also cracking down on legal immigration.
“To try to lock ourselves, to try to keep the world out … only hurts us. Our greatest ability in my opinion as a country is our ability to transform. America is a place where you can actualize your potential. Where everyone can actualize their potential, and we have to protect that,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We cannot allow this administration to misinterpret what is actually going on because they’re trying to close all the legal, normal, documented ways of getting into the U.S. … They are denying areas to [Temporary Protected Status] where we should be having them, like for folks who are leaving Venezuela for example.”
The event was a more localized response to Twitter attacks from the president telling “Democratic Congresswomen” to “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came.”
….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
A panel discussion was held with Amaha Kassa, executive director of African Communities Together; Jennifer Sun, co-executive director for Asian Americans for Equality; Roksana Mun, DRUM’s director of strategy and training; and Yatziri Tovar, media specialist with Make the Road New York.
But Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz also spoke claiming she had witnessed a white supremacist outside the town hall at P.S. 16, located at 41-15 104th St., handing out a flyer to a child that said, “You don’t belong here.”
“I left Colombia when I was 9 after I witnessed a murder in front of my house. This was at the height of the drug war … I spent 13 years of my life an undocumented immigrant living in Queens,” Cruz said. “Those experiences brought me to the idea that those who go through the pain are closest to the answer.”
Cruz, who later became an attorney, said her family endured discrimination and exploitation in their early years in the U.S. and called on documented immigrants and naturalized citizens to use their ‘privilege’ to stand up for undocumented.
“I just passed a white supremacist on the corner giving a child a piece of paper that said, ‘You don’t belong here’ – yes, the people protesting across the street,” Cruz said. “It’s up to us, those of us who suffered and work their way out to embrace that privilege and work alongside us to stand up for that child, that child’s parents and every single one of us.”
About 200 people attended the town hall despite a heat wave that marked the warmest day in the city since 2011.
Ocasio-Cortez looked back to the strategy that helped her win the 2018 Democratic primary against Joe Crowley of convincing non-habitual voters to turn out as a strategy for defeating Trump in 2020.
“We do not have acquiesce to the president’s racism, because he is using racism, he is stoking white supremacy and he is allowing frankly neo-Nazi groups to go off unchecked because that is key part of rousing his base,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But we cannot allow or give in to that. I think our response has to be turning up and turning out an electorate, because he doesn’t have to win districts; he has to win states. So when we turn out Detroit, Baltimore, Minneapolis … He’s a fraud and we have to tell that story.”