Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said the country is a “nation of immigrants,” and it was in “America’s interest” to focus on comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship in her appeal to Latino voters Saturday in Brooklyn.
“In the harbor is the Statue of Liberty reminding us of who we are and where we came from,” Clinton said after she was introduced by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn) at The Landing Café & Community in Sunset Park. “We are a nation of immigrants and I am proud of it.”
More than 200 people attended the festive event, where supporters voiced support in Spanish and English and credited her for fighting for the rights of Latino and Hispanic communities since she was a senator.
Clinton touted her support while in the Senate of the Dream Act, which would allow children of immigrants living in the country illegally to receive state college aid, as an example of her commitment.
Clinton said she then-helped one supporter Dan-el Padilla Peralta, who came as a child to the United States without documents, get a visa to study overseas when he won a scholarship at Princeton to study in England.
Before Clinton took the stage, Padilla, who also holds degrees from Oxford and Stanford said: “And she’s not only standing with the many immigrant children and communities throughout this country, she is standing for all of us who are trying to make our dreams into a reality.”
She in turn said Padilla “is representative of the extraordinary dreamer population in America and we are the better off if embrace them and support them.”
Clinton told of her first encounter with Latinos was as an 11-year-old girl growing up in Chicago when she volunteered with other young girls from her church to baby-sit the children of migrant farm workers.
She recalled seeing children running to meet their family members who arrived on a rickety bus after a long work day and jumping in their arms.
“I just stood there and thought ‘oh my gosh, that’s what I used to do when I was a little kid when my father came home from work,’ ” she said.
She added: “And I thought these are people just like me. These are people who have the same values. They care about their families and their children. And they work so hard.”
She said Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have really “put anti-immigration statements at the core of their campaigns.”
Earlier in the day she arrived at Junior’s, a Brooklyn diner, to the delight and surprise of customers and employees. Clinton, who was served three slices of cheesecake, sat at the counter next to New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and New York City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo of Brooklyn.
When asked by a reporter if she would eat the cheesecake, she said: “I learned early on not to eat in front of all of you,” she said referring to the media.
“So, I ‘m sitting here just pining, pining for a bite with my friends here,” she said.