Hillary Rodham Clinton

Criminal Justice and Immigration Reform in Washington, D.C. - Aug. 5, 2016

Hillary Rodham Clinton
August 05, 2016— Washington, D.C.
National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists Conf.
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Morning! I am so pleased to be here, I want to thank you all for the invitation, for the introduction, to everyone associated with NABJ and NAHJ, I want to just mark the moment because you were created in this hotel.

I don't know if there are any original founders, but if there are could you all stand up and we could give you some recognition?

I am delighted to thank you for the important work you do every day, and now more than ever we need you to keep holding leaders and candidates accountable. And in the tradition of path-breaking journalists like Ethel Payne and Ruben Salazar, we need you to make sure that America's front pages and nightly newscasts and online information reflects the great diversity of our nation.

Someone that I had the privilege of knowing, the late, great Bob Maynard, former owner of the Oakland Tribune, once said—and I quote Bob—"It is in seeing ourselves whole that we can begin to see ways of working out our differences of understanding our similarities," and becoming a more cohesive nation.

And that is what you do every day, helping us to see ourselves as whole. You help us see ourselves whole.

I'm looking forward to our discussion, which I'm sure will cover a wide range of issues, but I want to take just a few minutes to focus on a challenge that doesn't get enough attention out on the campaign trail, although I've been trying, and that is: how do we expand economic opportunity for African Americans and Latinos across America?

And you know very well, it's been said that when the economy catches a cold, communities of color get pneumonia. The Great Recession hit our whole country hard, but the toll was especially difficult for black and Latino families. Black wealth was cut in half. For Latinos, it dropped 66 percent. That represented decades, even generations of hard work. And during these past 18 months, people across the country have described to me how hard it's been to get back on their feet in an economy that is still not working the way we all want to see it. And barriers of systemic racism makes that even harder.

Now I believe that President Obama does not get the credit he deserves for leading us out of the Great Recession, and I like to remind people he had nothing to do with creating it in the first place. He came into office and this worst-of-all-financial-crises-since-the-Great-Depression was handed to him. And I think if you fairly look at the record, you have to conclude that his leadership saved us from a Great Depression.

So as bad as things became—9 million jobs lost, 5 million homes lost, $13 trillion in family wealth wiped out—as bad as it was, there's no telling how far down we would have gone without his leadership. So we are out of the ditch that we were in, and now we've got to do even more. We've got to build on the progress we've made. 15 million new jobs in the last seven years. 20 million people now have health insurance who did not have it before he became President.

So we've got to have the will and the plans together to move forward. That's why I've proposed a comprehensive new commitment to African American and Latino communities to make serious, sustained investments to create more good-paying jobs; to help families build and rebuild wealth; and support black- and Latino-owned small businesses. For me, these aren't just economic issues—they're part of the long, continuing struggle for civil rights.

Rosa Parks opened up every seat on the bus. Now we've got to expand economic opportunity so everyone can afford the fare. And we have to make sure the bus route reaches every neighborhood, and connects families with safe, affordable housing and good jobs.

Sylvia Mendez and Ruby Bridges helped desegregate our schools. Now we've got to help every family afford the books, computers and internet access that our kids need to learn in the 21st century.

And so in my first 100 days as President, we will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II. That includes jobs in manufacturing, clean energy, technology and innovation, small businesses, and infrastructure. If we invest in infrastructure now, we will not only create jobs today, we will lay the foundation for the jobs of the future.

We're going to also focus on creating jobs in communities where unemployment remains stubbornly high after generations of underinvestment and neglect. I'm a big fan of Congressman Jim Clyburn's "10-20-30" plan—steering 10 percent of federal investment to neighborhoods where 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years. We need that kind of focused, targeted investment—in urban places, rural places—wherever Americans have been left out and left behind.

We're also going to invest $20 billion in creating jobs for young people. There's a big gap here. The unemployment rate among Latino and African American youth is significantly higher than for whites. You know, it's hard to write a resume if you have nothing to put on it. We're going to help young people get that first job, so they can get that second job, so they can build a good solid middle-class life that will give them and their families a better future.

We're going to do more to help black and Latino entrepreneurs get access to capital, so they have a real chance at turning their ideas into thriving businesses. Now I think that's not only good for those entrepreneurs—it's good for their families, their workers, and their communities.

Additionally, as part of our end-to-end reform of the criminal justice system, we're going to help people succeed when they return home from jail or prison. We're going to ban the box so they can be judged by their skills and talents, not by their past. And we will dedicate $5 billion to provide training and support to returning citizens so they can get good-paying jobs.

And in my first 100 days, I'm going to introduce legislation for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship—that's not only the right thing to do. Every independent analysis shows it will add hundreds of billions of dollars to our economy. It will also keep families together. We need to bring hard-working people out of the shadows. America has always been a place where people from around the world work hard and apply their talents to American growth and innovation in pursuit of their own dreams. So we're going to do everything we can to get this done.

We need to build an economy and a future that every American can be proud of and be a part of. An economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That will be my mission as President.

These are just the highlights of our plan. I hope you'll go to my website, hillaryclinton.com to read the details, including how we're going to pay for everything I've proposed.

And of course I hope you'll compare what I am proposing to what my opponent is talking about.

Here's one measure that you could use for that comparison: an independent economist recently calculated that, if my agenda for jobs and growth is put into place, our economy would create at least 10.4 million jobs within four years. We actually think it could be more than that.

Now this economist also ran the numbers on Donald Trump, including his disastrous and inhumane plan to round up and deport millions of hard-working immigrants. The result, according to Mark Zandi, who was the economic advisor to John McCain during his 2008 run for the presidency, the result of Trump's plans would be a "lengthy recession" with 3.4 million jobs lost.

Now of course, Trump's problems go far beyond economics. At every turn, he stokes division and resentment. He says horrible things about one group of Americans after another. He's harkening back to the most shameful chapters of our history and appealing to the ugliest impulses of our society.

You know the list, you've reported on it. He started his campaign by describing Mexican immigrants as "criminals" and "rapists." He retweets white nationalists. He says a distinguished judge can't be trusted because he is of Mexican heritage. He talks about banning Muslims from coming to the United States—a land built on religious freedom. And yes, he also talks about curtailing press freedom as well.

We need to stand up as a country, and say that Donald Trump doesn't represent who we are and what we believe. That is what my campaign, what Tim Kaine and I, and everyone supporting us, is doing every day. And we're going to keep at it. Because I believe with all my heart that America is better than this. America is better than Donald Trump.

We just launched an all-Spanish Twitter account, because we want to bring as many Americans as possible into this conversation. We've opened offices in every state, because we want to compete everywhere—we want to bring our message and our vision to all corners of our country.

But we can't do it alone. Everyone—Republican, Democrat, and independent—needs to stand up and speak out. And I think journalists have a special responsibility to our democracy in a time like this. As Ida B. Wells once said, "people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare to the press."

Many of you are showing the way. It's a badge of honor when Jorge Ramos gets thrown out of a press conference for challenging Donald Trump. Or when another news organization gets banned for reporting what he says. As Jorge said, the best journalism happens when you take a stand, when you denounce injustice.

So I hope you'll keep calling it like you see it. Keep holding all of us accountable. You know, I have laid out all these plans, and I'm well aware that I have been sometimes made fun of for putting out these plans about the economy and education and criminal justice reform, and health care and gun safety measures and all the rest of it. But I have this old fashioned idea that when you run for President, you ought to tell the voters of America what you would do as President. So I am going to keep telling you what I would do because I want you to hold me accountable, press and citizens alike.

Because the stakes are as high as they've ever been in our lifetimes. And we all have to do our part.

So thank you for what you do every day, thank you for inviting me to address you today. And I look forward to taking some of your questions today. Thank you all very much.