Kamala Harris on DACA: ‘There is clear bipartisan support to protect Dreamers, but White House stands in the way’
If there’s anyone willing to call President Donald Trump out unapologetically, then surely it’s the junior Democratic senator from Californian Kamala Harris. She’s a fiery ally for the underclass who shines brightly from her senate seat on Capitol Hill. Harris candidly spoke to Vogue about her political life and future prospects.
Harris on helping immigrants
She’s the greatest ally the state of California has after Trump tried to end DACA back in September and the legal protections that the Obama administration granted to some 700,000 undocumented immigrants.
Trump believes that immigrants are the ones committing violent crimes in the US even though there’s no research to support that and Harris calls bullshit saying: “It’s fearmongering,” she tells Vogue. “Let’s be realistic. It’s easier to sow hate and division than it is to offer people a meaningful, sustaining solution.”
Harris says that she feels a particular duty to protect DACA recipients.
“The DACA population was given something that this president arbitrarily took away,” she says. “September 5, he decided to rescind DACA. Arbitrarily put in the date of March 5 if it’s not done.”
“This is a population of people we’re not talking about giving some new right to,” she says. “They had to qualify for their status. They didn’t just say ‘I want it’ and they got it. They had to be vetted.” Harris pauses.
“They come to my office every day panicked. These DACA kids don’t know what tomorrow will bring, except that it will require them to leave the only place they’ve ever known to go somewhere they have no recollection of ever being.”
Harris has become a celebrity and the Democratic powers that be are hopeful that she will take up the cause to run for the 2020 Presidential seat.
“There is clear bipartisan support to protect Dreamers from deportation, but this White House has repeatedly stood in the way,” Harris says in an email. “Let’s not forget, the White House created this crisis when they callously ended DACA and it has worked at every turn to sabotage Congress’s efforts to resolve it.”
Harris on Running for President
Will Harris keep hope alive and run for President in 2020? If she is, she’s not spilling the Presidential tea just yet.
“I honestly am focused on 2018,” she tells Vogue. “I’m not focused on it,” she repeats.
While she remains mum about her prospects her allies are hoping she take up the job to run and keep lighting the way by being the change.
“Almost 100 years after women fought for the right to vote, the country—and for sure the Democratic Party—is looking to the leadership of people like Kamala Harris,” says Henry R. Muñoz III, the finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“It’s not only to raise money, and not just to lean in, but to reach out and bring other women and minorities and people of color to the table—to register, to vote, and to run.” He adds: “You know that old saying, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’? Well, now you can see it.”
Harris on Washington
Harris is the only black woman on the judicial committee, or in the Senate for that matter.
Without question, it has been her role in the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings that has brought Harris the most attention. In June, Harris pummeled Attorney General Jeff Sessions with questions about his contacts with Russians during the Trump campaign.
“I’m not able to be rushed this fast,” he complained. “It makes me nervous.” When she didn’t let up, Senators John McCain and Richard Burr interrupted and admonished Harris. At the time she thought nothing of it. “I was just looking at the clock like, ‘I only have so many more minutes to keep asking these questions,’ ” she says.
Others saw the moment differently. “Boo-hoo,” says Senator Elizabeth Warren of Sessions’s “nervous” comment. “This was a tough woman doing her job. Period.” The exchange also resonated with Gillibrand. “They were trying to silence her the way that President Trump tried to silence me in his nasty tweets,” Gillibrand says. “That was an effort by the committee chairman to keep her quiet because her questioning was so good and so effective.”
Later, Harris watched the video clips and understood the furor they caused. “I certainly saw how it appeared, and completely appreciated how everyone responded,” she says. When I ask Emhoff about the Sessions hearing, he jokes: “Welcome to Tuesday night at my house.”
On Building Bridges
“The Muslim ban came down in January and my phone started burning up,” Harris remembers. “Lawyers calling me from the airports saying, ‘Come. We’re here.’ Lawyers I know saying, ‘We’re at the airport and they will not let us talk to the families.’ ”
That night Harris phoned then–Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
“His first response was, ‘Why are you calling me at home with this?’ ” Harris says, pausing to register her disbelief. And so it went for months.
“In reflection, it was just rapid-fire, and almost everything was unpredictable. There was no preparing for it in any way, strategically or mentally or emotionally.”
Harris’s first piece of legislation was aimed at guaranteeing access to legal counsel for anyone detained entering the U.S. Later, she cosponsored with Senator Bernie Sanders the Medicare for All bill—but she’s teamed up with Republicans as well, notably Senator Rand Paul on a bipartisan bill to reform the cash bail system.
She also joined Kirsten Gillibrand in calling for Senator Al Franken to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Listen, I was reluctant,” Harris says now about that decision. “I felt a bit conflicted about it. But ultimately I think the issue is something that has to be addressed wherever it occurs.”
Harris rejects the notion that the #MeToo movement is merely a women’s issue. In fact, she questions what that category even means:
“People come up to me, ‘Oh, what’s it like being the first woman blah blah blah.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve always been a woman.’ Or even at the Women’s March. People come up to me, ‘Oh, talk to us about women’s issues.’ And I look at them and I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m so glad you want to talk about the economy.’ ”