LAS VEGAS (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris on Thursday cast President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal as a “short-sighted” plan that overlooks immigrant families and categorizes people into a hierarchy.
Harris, speaking to members of Nevada’s Latino community and Democrats gathered at a Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas, said the plan shifting the green card system to favor those with high-level skills over the relatives of those already in the country is antithetical to American values.
“This is a nation that was founded on a principle that we articulated in 1776 that we are all equal and should be treated that way,” she said.
The California senator said that instead of using the power of the presidency to push through an immigration plan with bipartisan support, Trump is instead “trying to get support for his vanity project,” his proposed U.S-Mexico border wall.
Harris also pledged that as president, she’d commit to ending federal funding for private prisons and privately-run detention centers and would veto budget bills that included such funding.
“We are talking about a business model where people are making profit, they’re making money, off the incarceration of other human beings. That should not be a money making venture,” Harris said.
Harris also knocked Trump’s plan earlier Thursday while speaking to members of Nevada’s fast-growing Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
The senator, speaking at a Vietnamese restaurant in the city’s Chinatown district, said the president’s proposal is “short-sighted” and ignores the fact that family-based immigration is a leading route for those coming from Asian countries to the U.S.
Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, also spoke about her South Asian heritage and noted she was the first person of South Asian descent to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Harris said the barriers she and others have broken help to redefine “images of who can do what.”
One attendee asked the senator how she will stand out from the crowded Democratic field, which had 23 contenders on Thursday with the entry of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
She replied by saying she will win because she has served in elected office at the local, state and federal levels and has experience on a wide variety of policies.
“Almost on every subject that we can discuss, I’ve done something,” she said.
Harris said she wasn’t making a criticism of any other candidate but said Democrats are “going to want someone with a proven track record of leadership. Not just somebody who can give a beautiful speech.”
The senator drew on her background as a district attorney and attorney general, saying that Democrats need someone who can debate Trump “who has a proven ability to be able to prosecute a case against the policies of this administration.”