Wow, it is so great being here with all of you today. Thank you. I love you all too. I am so glad to see you gathered here.
I want to thank your President, Roger Rocha, and your Executive Director, Brent Wilkes, and let's give another round of applause to Lizeth for sharing her story. I believe that more people in our country need to hear from Lizeth and other DREAMers across America. These young people are so important to our future. I told her I was really proud of her and I'm sure that her family and her parents in particular are very proud as well.
And thank all of you for helping to make LULAC the united and energized organization it is today. For 87 years, you have been on the frontlines. Now I haven't been around all of those 87 years, but I am proud to stand alongside you for part of that journey. There are a lot of people I know in this audience: people who have served as President and officers at LULAC, women who have led the women's movement here out of LULAC.
Back in the '90s, we worked together to achieve universal health care. We fought the good fight. And when were defeated, we got right back up, and you helped us pass the Children's Health Insurance Program that covers 8 million children in America today. I remember this very well because I worked with your leadership.
Back then, LULAC made signs that read, "Let's move forward with Clinton." Now, I found that very flattering. But I asked back then if we could please change the signs to "Let's move forward together." Because that was more accurate. Because everything we achieved, we achieved together.
And that's how we're going to write the next chapter of the American story, to put opportunity within reach of every family. We are going to do that together. And I for one, want, I want all Americans, from all backgrounds, to help chart our future. And I hope and expect that Latinos will play a leading role.
Now you know this, but it bears repeating, you represent one of the fastest growing minority groups in America. By 2050, communities of color will represent the majority of our population. So of course Latinos have to help us shape the future of America because you are the future of America.
Now I know from my own work going back decades that when we invest in this community—when we make it easier for Latinos to get an education, compete for jobs, start and grow new businesses and pursue your dreams—all of America benefits.
That's why I'm making to you two commitments for what I'll do in the first 100 days of my Administration.
First, we will make the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II—with support specifically for Latino-owned small businesses.
And I will also introduce legislation for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.
These two top priorities are what I have heard as I have traveled across the country, meeting with groups large and small. People who say, "Hey we want to succeed, we want to start a small business, we want to create more opportunity." And we need once and for all to end the vicious debate about comprehensive immigration reform.
So first, with respect to jobs. We need to create an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. And we have to do this together as well. You know that better than anyone. Latinos are 17 percent of our country's population—but you hold only 2 percent of its wealth. There's a disconnect here. We've got to connect more Latinos with good jobs that pay good wages, with more opportunities to go to college, like Lizeth, to launch new ventures, and build wealth that you can pass on to your kids. Now, there are lots of ways of doing that, aren't there? Well, one of the best ways is to face the fact that America's infrastructure is crumbling.
We need to rebuild. And we need to build our clean energy infrastructure, so we can increase efficiency, cut costs for consumers, and compete and win in the 21st-century green economy. It just so happens that more than a quarter of all construction jobs in America are held by Latinos. My plan will create thousands more jobs in these sectors, putting people to work rebuilding America. That is about the kind of future that we want together.
And I have a special place in my heart for small businesses. My dad was a small businessman, very small. But he worked so hard and gave us a very solid, middle class life.
So I want to do more to support Latino-owned small businesses, which have created so many jobs and so much growth across America. I have a plan to cut red tape, increase access to capital, and invest $25 billion to support innovation in communities that need that the most. That's what we will do together. While we're doing all that, creating these jobs, which is good for everybody in America.
While we're at it, let's finally give workers a raise. It's time to raise the minimum wage. No one who works full-time in America should ever live in poverty. The presumptive Republican nominee doesn't believe we need to raise the minimum wage. In fact he has said wages are too high in America. Yes, exactly.
And you know what else we need to do? We need to close the gender pay gap. This inequality of pay affects all women, but it is hardest on women of color. And hardest most of all on Latinas. On average, Latinas earn just 55 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. That is just outrageous. I know you understand this, and I am going to campaign on this across America in front of every audience. Because one of the fastest ways to raise income is to ensure equal pay. And people who say to me, "Well that's a woman's issue" are missing the whole point. If you have a mother, a wife, a sister, or a daughter who is not being paid fairly, it's your issue, it's a family issue and it's an American economic issue.
And at a time when education is more important than ever, let's make sure no one is forced to give up their dream of going to college because they can't afford to pay. Over the last 20 years the number of Latinas going to college has tripled. We should applaud, that is a big accomplishment. Yet here is the catch, Latinos are still less likely than their white peers to graduate, often because they can't afford to. That's heartbreaking, isn't it?
I think we've gone backwards in many ways. We don't provide enough help to students who really need it. My plan will change that. We're going to make community college free. And we're going to make public universities debt free.
Now here's what that means. For families making less than $125,000 a year, we will eliminate tuition altogether at public colleges and universities. We will also help those of you who already have debt refinance it and pay it back with more help.
Now, also, in my first 100 days, as part of my commitment, I will introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. I want to say I know how painful it was when the Supreme Court made the decision it made. So many families had hoped that it would be different. And there is a lot of worry and concern across our country. So let me say this. We do, in my opinion, have a consensus that something must be done. Whether we get it done will depend on this election.
For a long time the question of whether to reform our immigration system was hotly contested. Now there's greater agreement, except in some circles. I deeply regret the kind of campaign the presumptive Republican nominee started with and is still running today. So part of what we have to be strong in standing for is a credible path forward for reform that is truly comprehensive, addressing all aspects of the system, including immigrants living here today, those who wish to come in the days ahead, from highly-skilled workers to family members, to those seeking refuge from violence, wherever that might occur.
To families, this is an issue that matters more than we can measure. So there's nothing that I take more seriously.
I will send a proposal to Congress that will include a path to citizenship. That will fix the family visa backlog and strengthen our economy. And will enable our country to be what it's always been—a place where people from around the world can come to start new businesses, pursue their dreams, apply their talents to American growth and innovation.
And while we're doing that, we must do everything we can to keep families already here together.
So when the Supreme Court put DAPA on hold, and that affected 5 million immigrants, and it was devastating for those millions of families. But it's important to note the Court did not actually rule on the substance of the case. I've said throughout this campaign that DAPA is squarely within the President's authority. And I will keep saying that and fighting for it.
There's more we can do. We need a simple, straightforward system where people with sympathetic cases or can show a history of service to their communities can make their case, and be eligible for deferred action. Like people who experience and report extreme labor abuses.
And we absolutely must end family detention, close private detention facilities, stop the raids and round-ups. These actions are not consistent with our values. Too many children in our country say goodbye to their parents every morning, not knowing if Mom or Dad will be there when they get home. I know how important family is, and I want to do everything I can as President to keep families together. That's one of the many reasons to finally get immigration reform through. There's nothing more important to these families that live in fear and anxiety.
Now jobs and immigration reform are just two of the issues that are at stake in this election. What happens this November really matters my friends. Now, I think that's true in every Presidential election. But this one is different, isn't it?
We're not just choosing a President and Commander in Chief this fall. The choice we make will say a lot about who we are and whether we understand and celebrate the diversity in our country, which makes us all the stronger.
After the last election, the Republicans commissioned a major report, telling them everything they did wrong and what they'd need to do in order to win next time. One of the conclusions of that report was that Republicans had to work harder to appeal to Latino voters.
Next week in Cleveland, they will nominate someone who thinks "Latino outreach" is tweeting a picture of a taco bowl.
What a difference a few years makes.
Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be President of the United States.
Let's just remember why that is so. In the first weeks of his campaign, he said that immigrants from Mexico are drug dealers, rapists, murderers, carriers of infectious disease.
He referred to a Latina contestant in his Miss Universe pageant as "Miss Housekeeping."
He insists—and I quote—"This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish." Well I have to tell you he doesn't know much about our history and what a great opportunity we give to people from everywhere to come to this country. He criticized Jeb Bush for speaking—quote—"Mexican." You can't make this up.
He wants to revoke the citizenship of 4 million Americans born in this country to immigrant parents, eliminate the bedrock principle in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution—that if you're born in America, you're a citizen of America. Now, I don't know if you read about his visit recently to Capitol Hill to try to assuage the concerns of some of the House and Senate members. But he was asked a serious question by one of those members—what did he think about Article I of the Constitution and the powers that it described. He said, "I like Article 1, Article II, Article XII."
Well, there is no Article XII. I kind of have this old-fashioned idea that if you raise your hand to be sworn in as President to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States, you should know what is in the Constitution of the United States.
Now, I often mention the 11 million people he wants to round up and deport. But if you add in the more than 4 million Americans whose citizenship he wants to revoke, it's closer to 16 million. Never mind that this crazy idea could cost us nearly a trillion dollars in economic output. He is talking about undoing a fundamental value of our nation.
Then there are his attacks against Judge Curiel, the distinguished judge in the fraud lawsuit against the so-called Trump University. Judge Curiel was born in Indiana. Last time I checked, it was part of the United States. His parents were born in Mexico. So, as far as Donald's concerned, that means Judge Curiel can't be trusted to do his job. He says that the judge should be disqualified because of his, and I quote, "Mexican heritage." Those are his words. He called him a "Mexican judge" over and over again. It was a cynical, calculated attempt to fan the flames of racial division. And also to undermine people's faith in our judicial system. Why would someone running for President want to do that?
Even the Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, called Trump's comments, "the textbook definition of a racist comment."
I will say what Donald Trump won't say. Judge Curiel is as American as I am. And as American as Donald Trump is.
So just listen closely because when Trump talks about making America great again, that is code for taking us back to a time when racial minorities, and women, were marginalized, ostracized, treated as less than the full citizens, the full participants, the full human beings that we are.
Now he's making unfortunately, an impression on our children, too. …or dad or teacher about how to talk to their kids about Trump. In one recent survey, two-thirds of teachers reported that their students—especially those from immigrant families—feel afraid about what this election will mean for their futures.
When our kids are scared by our policy debates, that's a sign something has gone badly off the rails.
It matters when at a high school sporting event in Indiana and Wisconsin, Latino teenagers are subjected to chants of "Build the wall!" And "Speak English."
Donald Trump is running the most divisive campaign of our lifetimes. His message is that you should be afraid—afraid of people whose ethnicity is different, whose religious faith is different, or who were born in a different country.
That's, my friends, no innuendo or dog-whistle anymore. It's all out in the open now.
So we have to come back twice as strong and twice as clear.
We have to say with one voice that Latinos are a vital part of the American community.
And we saw that so tragically again last week.
When shots rang out in Dallas, brave police officers ran into the gunfire. One of them was a man named Patrick Zamarripa. He was a Navy veteran. He served three tours in Iraq. He had a 2-year old daughter. And he was very proud of his Mexican heritage. On July 4th, in what would turn out to be his final tweet, this is what he wrote: "Happy Birthday to the greatest country on the face of this planet. My beloved America!"
That is the Latino community. Loving. Dedicated. Proud. Patriotic.
Whether you're Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Afro-Latino, from Central or South America, whether your family just arrived or has been here since before the United States even existed, we are brothers and sisters, and I will be your champion. We are not strangers. You are not intruders. You're our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, our families. You make our nation stronger, smarter, and more creative. I want you to know I see you, I hear you, and I am with you.
And together, together we must send a resounding message to Donald Trump in November and earn a decisive mandate against demagoguery and fear. It's not enough to just complain, it's not enough to talk to friends and neighbors or make speeches. We need to inspire a level of turnout that will help us win up and down the ticket.
That will lead to more supportive state and local officials, who can put a stop to aggressive, anti-immigration measures. That will lead to more Senators and Representatives helping us craft immigration reform, and a Congress that will actually pass it.
So I'm going to work my heart out, but I need your help. I need you at my side. Because this is your election. That's why the work that LULAC is doing to help register voters is so critical. That's why I'm fighting for automatic voter registration.
When you leave this conference please go home and figure out what you can do to be a part of the LULAC registration movement. Let's move forward together once more, toward a future built on the "kindness and compassion" that Cesar Chavez envisioned, toward the "social change" that Dolores Huerta marched for, toward a future that reflects that simple, timeless notion that all of us are equal.
Judge Curiel is an American. Patrick Zamarripa was an American. Lizeth is an American.
We are all proud Americans.
And the promise of America is big enough for all of us.
Let's go forth and make that clear in the election of 2016. Thank you. God bless you!