Thank you so very, very much. Oh my goodness, this is very exciting for me. I am so honored to be kicking off AAPI for me and this campaign, but I really see it as for all of us, this is a campaign that will do everything that the Congresswoman just said: to make sure that all people in our country have the chance to live up to their potential, that all people are taken to the heights of what our great nation can offer and that they are part of the diversity that makes us stronger, to be respected and lifted up. That's what we will do together.
I want to thank Congresswoman Judy Chu for those very kind and stirring words. Her support in this campaign and in the past mean the world to me. We had some excellent conversations about the agenda that the caucus chief chairs and Congress is working on, and I was proud to pledge my support. And I want to thank all of the Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders, activists, volunteers, and organizers who are here today and by my side as we go through the primary process and then we bring home a big win in November of 2016.
Now, there are so many elected officials here which is a great sign of the importance of people registering to vote and voting, but also being willing to run for office. I wanted to acknowledge a few of them. Representative Sablan from the North Mariana Islands is with us. Norm Mineta, former Secretary of Transportation and Commerce. John Chiang, California State Treasurer. Betty Yee, State Comptroller, Fiona Ma, Board of Equalization, Irene Bueno, the AAPI Director in 2008 who worked so hard for me, Trung Ta, the founding Chairman of the Vietnamese American Democratic Club. And it's exciting to see so many of you here in this town, whose mayor is with us, Jason Pu, the Mayor of San Gabriel. In addition to the members of my campaign team that Judy mentioned, I also want to recognize Dennis Cheng who is our Finance Director. And we will be having an event after this, and I am very proud and grateful for all of you who are supporting that. This is especially meaningful for me, for a personal reason as well as the great outpouring of support that you are demonstrating.
My late mother grew up in Alhambra. She didn't have a very easy childhood by any means. She was basically rejected by her parents when she was very young in Chicago. And with a younger sister, they were put on a train by themselves to travel from Chicago to Los Angeles to live with her paternal grandparents who had a small house in Alhambra. She went to high school there. But by the age of 14, it was clear that her grandparents didn't want her either. So she left that home and went to work as a maid in a home somewhere here in the area. I can't tell you how grateful I am to whoever that family was, and here's why. The mother of the home recognized my mother wanted to go to high school. So, she said to my mom, "If you get up really early and you get your chores done, you can go to high school. Then you'll have to come back and finish all of them in the evening." Now, that may sound harsh to some people, for a fourteen-year-old girl to be put into that position. But my mother was so grateful. The problem was that the home where she was working and living was some distance from Alhambra, a couple of miles. I'm not sure where. So she literally had to get those chores done and then run to high school. But she so much wanted an education. And she was so proud when so many years later, she actually went back to Alhambra High School, to a reunion. It had to be the 70th reunion. There weren't many folks there, but she knew a lot of them. And they had such a great time. And the high school even gave her a role in the parade for homecoming. So, when I think about this part of California, the first thing I think about is my mom and how kind people were to her here when her own family was not.
And I know how important family is to all of you. And that's how I see our country. I see us, when we're at our best, as lifting up families, helping families to be strong, helping families get the support they need to do the best they can for their children and for their parents. And I've said in this campaign, the stakes are very high. I want to be a president who deals with the economy to make sure it works for everybody, not just those at the top. I want to keep Americans safe and keep our country strong around the world.
And I also want to do what I can as president to help deal with the problems that keep families up at night. Sometimes it's an illness. Sometimes it's a real risk with a job or a small business. Sometimes it's the difficulty of affording college. I know about a lot of these problems and I hear from so many people across our country. So, standing here today it's really a great privilege to be launching this exciting part of my campaign in a place that my mother never forgot the kindness that was shown to her and the chance she had eventually to graduate from high school.
I was so proud to work with the AAPI community when I was a senator from New York. America's ties to the Asia-Pacific region have always been important, but in the 21st century they will be absolutely vital. I was very proud when my husband's administration launched the first-ever White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
And I know there are some people here—they were young people then—who actually worked in the White House, worked in the Clinton Administration, helped to put that initiative into place. The focus was for the federal government to be more deliberate about understanding the challenges helping all parts of the AAPI community succeed. And when I was secretary of state for President Obama, and we launched the "pivot to Asia," we were sending a very strong message that we wanted to rebuild ties with our allies and reassert the United States as a pacific power. So we have the groundwork here at home and around the world laid, but it's going to take a President working as your partner, standing with you, fighting for you every single day to make the kind of progress that we can make together. Now, I think of this story through the lives of so many people whom I have gotten to know over a lot of decades. One of them is Norm Mineta, who is with us today. Now, some of you know Norm as a dedicated public servant, an elected official, a cabinet secretary, both a Democratic and Republican administration. But he also reminds us of an important lesson about our nation, and what it takes to make it work for everyone.
You see, when Norm was a child during World War II, he and his family were forcibly removed from their home and put into an internment camp. He was ten years old. And he was a huge baseball fan. And as he stood with his parents, waiting for the train to take them away, a military police officer confiscated his possessions, including his most prized possession, his favorite baseball bat. That wasn't in some far away country. That was here, in the United States.
Yet despite his own personal experience, Norm never stopped believing in the promise of America. And that's one of the reasons he was motivated to serve our country, to represent his neighbors and to make a real difference on everything from infrastructure to protecting our oceans. I tell you this story and I think if we had time, we could hear dozens and dozens of stories. Personal stories about the journeys that brought you, your parents, your grandparents here to America. But I want to make a larger point. I disagree with the Republican front-runner, Mr. Trump. See, I think America is great because generations of hardworking Americans have made us great. Our values and our ideals have made us great. Now it is up to us to make sure we are even greater when we pass on the opportunities that have been made available to all of us to our children and our grandchildren.
This is a lesson we would never dare to forget. We are a country built by the hard work of generations of immigrants and we are stronger because of our diversity and our openness.
Now, I really wish that I didn't have to stand here today and say any of this, but we are hearing a lot of hateful rhetoric out on the campaign trail. Calling immigrants "drug dealers" and "rapists," using offensive terms to describe the citizen children of immigrants, saying we should bar all Muslims from entering our country. Republican candidates have said they would turn away widows and orphans and apply a religious test to people seeking asylum as refugees. They forget a fundamental lesson about our great country. Being an open and tolerant society does not make us vulnerable—it's at the core of our strength of who we are in America.
It's a creed as old as our founding. E Pluribus Unum—out of many we are one.
So we have a lot at stake in this election. Either we're going to defend the progress that we have made and build upon it or we are going to let a new Republican president rip it all away. Because, make no mistake about it, what you're hearing from all of them, is the same failed policies that lead to the Great Recession. They want to slash taxes on the wealthy, put consumers at the mercy of drug companies, insurers and polluters let Wall Street write its own rules again. And we know, don't we, how that ends up. We have seen this happen before, now. My friends on the other side of the aisle don't like it when I say this, but it's a fact. ... The economy works better when we have a Democratic president in the White House.
In fact, you are four times more likely to have a recession when you have a Republican in the White House. And just think back if you can bear it, to how bad things were in 2008. After that election, President-elect Obama called me. He asked me to come see him in Chicago. I didn't know why. Turned out he wanted to ask me to be Secretary of State. But before we got to that, he said, "You know, when it comes to the economy, it is so much worse than they told us." We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. The American auto industry was on the brink of total collapse.
I don't think President Obama gets the credit he deserves for digging us out of a hole that he inherited from the prior administration. So we are standing, but we're not yet running the way we need to.
I want us to get more good-paying jobs. I want us to raise incomes for hard-working families. I want us to raise the minimum wage, guarantee equal pay for women, protect workers' rights to organize and bargain.
I want us to build 21st century infrastructure—our bridges, our roads, our tunnels, our ports, airports, transit systems. And we need to combat climate change, which the other party won't even recognize.
The best way to do that is by investing in clean renewable energy, which will do so much to lift up our economy. I want the United States to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st Century. There are three candidate countries for that role: China, Germany, and us. I want it to be us. I want us to use our innovation and entrepreneurship to make a difference.
Now, California is already a leader on this, but there are other states that are doing more as well. I spent a lot of time, as you know, in Iowa. They get one-third of their electricity from wind. We can make investments like this across America.
I know we have got a lot of small business owners in this crowd today. I want to be the small business president. I want to make it easier to start small businesses, grow small businesses, get credit for your small businesses. And I especially want to reduce barriers to women- and minority-owned small businesses.
I know how hard people are working so let's make it easier to balance work and family. That's especially true for parents of young children. We've got to join the rest of the world by guaranteeing paid family leave. But it's also true for people who are taking care of their aging parents, isn't it? As a nation, we are not valuing and supporting family caregivers the way we should.
So here's what I am proposing. A new tax credit to help defray costs for people taking care of an older relative. I want to expand Social Security so people who take time out from their careers, primarily women, to raise a child or care for a family member are not penalized when they go to collect their retirement checks.
I also have a comprehensive plan to invest in research to prevent, effectively treat, and make possible a cure for Alzheimer's disease by 2025. How many of you know somebody with Alzheimer's? Yeah. Every crowd I'm in, so many hands go up. I know what a burden it is. It is an emotional and physical and financial burden. People do it because they love their spouse or their parent or their grandparent. But it shouldn't be so hard and we must invest more money in research. It is the sixth leading cause of death. In the top ten causes of death, it's the only one where we have no drugs to treat it. We don't know how to prevent it. And we can't figure out how to cure it. Under my administration, after having talked to scientists and researchers who are doing this cutting-edge work, we are going to make progress and in ten years, I know we will have a big impact on how to prevent, how to treat, and maybe find a cure for Alzheimer's.
I also want to make college more affordable again for hardworking families and their students. As Judy said, I've proposed a New College Compact that will let young people go to public colleges and universities without taking out loans to pay tuition. We are going to let you refinance your student debt. You can refinance your mortgage and your car payment. You ought to be able to refinance your student debt to save thousands of dollars.
And again, as Judy pointed out, we know our immigration system is broken. Millions of undocumented people are working and raising their families here, living in fear of seeing their families ripped apart. There are millions of family members of lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens who wait for years, sometimes for decades, to have their families join them in America. We can do better than this.
We could add hundreds of billions of dollars to our GDP by passing comprehensive immigration reform. We could shore up Social Security because right now, undocumented workers contribute 12 billion dollars a year and if we have comprehensive immigration reform, it's projected to go up to 20 billion.
Now ultimately, this is more than an economic issue, it's more than a political issue. This is a family issue. If we say that we value and support families, then we should act as though we do. That's why I voted for comprehensive immigration legislation in the Senate. That's why I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to full and equal citizenship.
That's why you can count on me to defend President Obama's executive actions on DACA and DAPA.
And I would go even further. There are so many more undocumented people with deep ties in their communities who deserve the chance to stay. I will fight for them, too.
When I was a senator, I worked to reduce the backlog for family visas and reunite immigrant families. I will keep up that fight. Applicants from the Asia-Pacific region make up about 40 percent of the family visa backlog. Some from the Philippines have been waiting for a visa for 23 years. If you're a U.S. citizen and your brother lives in India, it will take at least 12 years just to get him a visa.
And finally, we've got to do more to help the millions of people who are eligible for citizenship take that last step. I will work to expand fee waivers so more people can get a break on the costs. I will increase access to language programs to help people boost their English proficiency. I don't want anyone who could be a citizen now to miss out on that opportunity.
And for all our citizens, we're going to fight to protect your right to vote and make sure your voices are counted on Election Day. I would like to see every 18 year old automatically registered to vote. I'd like to see more early voting. And I would like to see the AAPI community get out and vote more.
That is essential because right now, it's one of the fastest-growing communities in this country, but it's a community that votes at a lower rate than others.
So we face a lot of challenges. But I am excited. I am confident. I am optimistic about our country. I don't understand the rhetoric coming from the Republicans. Because to me, they are living somewhere besides where we are. Many of the things they say just don't reflect my experience or the lives of people that I meet and talk with every day.
So American families have a lot at stake in this election. A new president is going to walk into the Oval Office in January 20th, 2017. And we need it to be a president who can do all parts of the job. Make the economy work for everyone with good paying jobs and rising incomes. Keeping families safe and our country strong. Tackling the problems that keep families up at night, like Alzheimer's, or Autism, or addiction.
Now, I'll go anywhere, talk with anyone, and work my heart out to find common ground. But I'll also stand my ground for you. I want to share one additional story. I'm very proud to have so many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders working with me on this campaign. But I want to tell you about one more.
Cheska is a DREAMer. She came here from the Philippines with her family when she was a young girl. Her father had a work visa, but he lost his job in the recession—and that meant the whole family became undocumented. When Cheska was a senior in high school, teachers were asking her every day, "What are your college plans?" She was in ROTC. She found the courage to tell her ROTC instructor about her situation. And her school stepped up. They supported her. They helped her investigate DACA and apply for relief. And she got it. And now she's helping her four siblings with their applications.
The day after I announced I was running for president, Cheska signed up to volunteer with this campaign. Now she's a field organizer in Las Vegas. She's putting her college education on hold because she wants to help shape the future of the country that has given her so many opportunities.
I want to give young people like Cheska every chance to succeed. I believe they can make great contributions to our country. But I need your help to do that. I thank everybody that came from Nevada. I would ask any of you interested in the campaign to help out in Nevada and to sign up. Some of you I know have traveled across the country for me or for President Obama, so you're used to being in the cold weather and the hot weather as we pick our nominee and I hope you will consider being involved again. It's very important because the stakes have never been higher. Now in the back of the room you'll find some of our volunteers ready to help you sign up to get the votes out in Nevada and if you can't travel, you can make phone calls. And then sign up for other early states. I hope you'll talk to them today.
I started by talking about my mom. I am the granddaughter on my father's side of an immigrant factory worker. He came to this country as a young boy. Went to work in the lace mills in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Worked really hard all of his life to give his children a greater opportunity. Well he did, all three of his sons including my dad went to college. And my dad became a small businessman, a really small businessman. He served in the Navy in World War II and had a small business again when he came out. He believed in our country, he believed in the work ethic and individual responsibility that so many people here exhibit. He set a great example about all of that for me. My mom's fight through a difficult childhood. She never stopped believing that the future could be better. She never stopped being grateful for our country. So came by to my commitment to America and our future through my parents. Through my family.
And now, I have this amazing 15-month-old granddaughter. And I think about her every day and I'm grateful that my daughter and her husband send me pictures, videos, so no matter where I am and what's going on, I can just click them on and watch them again for the 15th or 16th time. And of course Bill and I will do whatever again that she has the best opportunities but I want from the bottom of my heart, that is not enough. It matters what kind of country she grows up in. And it matters what kind of world is out there waiting for her. And it matters not that our grandchild can realize the promise of America, but that everybody's child and grandchild has the same chance to do the same. I am fighting to give every one of our children the chance to fulfill their dreams in our country. A nation of DREAMers and builders. If you will help me, that is what we will do together.
Thank you all very much!