This is a rush transcript and it’s subject to change.
Rules of use: Mandatory first mention to “NALEO Candidate Forum Hosted by NALEO at Telemundo Center”.
Photography: Please visit NBC Media Village to download pictures.
NALEO is hosting the presidential candidate forum in partnership with Presenting Sponsor Comcast NBCUniversal Telemundo as part of this year’s NALEO 36thAnnual Conference (June 20-22, 2019). Taking place on June 21 at Telemundo Center headquarters in Miami, the Forum is offering candidates a unique opportunity to engage Latino leadership on the issues that matter most to the Latino community. Next follows a transcript of Hon. Elizabeth Warren participation.
VANESSA HAUC: Senator, welcome.
ELIZABETH WARREN: You're welcome, Vanessa.
VANESSA HAUC: Thank you.
ELIZABETH WARREN: Thank you.
ARTURO VARGAS: Welcome, Senator.
ELIZABETH WARREN: So nice to see you.
ARTURO VARGAS: Good seeing you.
ELIZABETH WARREN: Thank you. It's good to be here. Good morning. Buenos dias. Good morning. It's good to see everyone. Shall I start?
VANESSA HAUC: One minute for your opening remarks, Senator.
ELIZABETH WARREN: All right. So, there's probably nobody who-- is less likely to be standing here as a candidate for president than me. I'm somebody who grew up in a paycheck to paycheck family, a family that struggled. I'm the baby. I have three older brothers. My daddy had a lotta different jobs.
When he had a heart attack and was out of work for a long, long time I remember what it was like as a kid to see us lose our family car and to come within inches of losing our family home. I watched my parents struggle. And I watched them do everything they could for us kids. Me, I had a dream growing up.
My dream wasn't about being president. My dream was to be a public school teacher. Can we hear it for America's public school teachers? But, you know, to be a public school teacher, you gotta go to college. And we didn't have the money for a college application much less to send me off to four years at a university. I have a bumpy story. I got married early. I dropped out of school. But I finally had my chance. And it was a commuter college that cost $50 a semester.
And that's how I made it. I became a special needs teacher. I have actually lived my dream. So me, the fundamental question in the 2020 election is about who government works for. When government sets a minimum wage, it's the difference between whether a family can succeed or fail. When government invests in higher education, it's the difference between whether or not a kid gets a chance to finish an education and become a public school teacher.
When a government works just for a thinner and thinner slice at the top and isn't working for everyone else, that's just corruption, pure and simple. We need to call it out. And in 2020 we need to change it and make this government work for all of us.
VANESSA HAUC: Thank you, Senator. So your first question. Your campaign slogan is, "I have a plan for that." But as it pertains to immigration reform, we have yet to hear your proposal. Now, in the meantime, President Trump has convinced a significant number of voters that this country is facing a real crisis with the immigration-- crisis that is coming up in the borders.
And this is one of the most dangerous problems according to him. Rather than lettering one side define the debate of immigration, how soon can your campaign deliver a plan on immigration? And could we have a preview here today?
ELIZABETH WARREN: So I'm very glad you asked about this. You know-- we start every question I think about immigration or any other public policy with a statement of our values, a statement of what it is that we're trying to accomplish. And for me on this one, it's pretty clear. We want to have an immigration policy that's good for our economy, that keeps us safe, and that is in alignment with our values.
We start with the fact that in America immigration makes us stronger, not weaker. And we need to have an immigration system that capitalizes on that. So let's talk about what that is. The first part obviously is we need to deal with the people who are here, and that means a pathway to citizenship.
We need to protect our Dreamers. We need to keep families together. It's consistent with our values, it's good for the United States of America. We need to reform our TPS system to make sure that people who are here on Temporary Protected Status get to stay here, they're integrated into communities and families here. That's important for us.
But we also need to look at the systematic problems in the immigration system. And let me just start with one of them. And that's the fact that there's too much profit now in the system. And that's why I have a plan. It's true-- to push the private profits out of the incarceration system. And that means both in our criminal justice system and in our immigration system.
Right now there are giant companies that profit off this system. 73% of the people who are currently detained on immigration status are held in for-profit detention centers. Now, where's the biggest problem with for-profit detention centers? You've just created a group that makes its money by seeing more people locked up. And that means they go to Washington and lobby for laws that keep locking up more people.
You know, this is what I mean when I say, "who Washington works for." We have a Washington right now that works great for those who want to invest in private prisons and private incarceration. It's just not working for the families and the people who are destroyed by it. So I say get the profits out of locking people up. And that also includes the other ways they figure to profit off people's misery.
So at some of these places, you realize they charge people $8 a minute to use telephone services? They charge people for video conferencing. Families go broke just trying to stay in touch with their loved ones, loved ones who have not been convicted of a crime, loved ones who just want to be part of their families and part of their communities. I say no more on that. No more profiteering off people who are locked up.
VANESSA HAUC: And Senator--
ELIZABETH WARREN: We need real oversight. So there are lots of pieces to what we need to do. But this is a place to start. And the reason I start there is because over and over the problem we've got in Washington is that our government policies are set by those who can hire the armies of lobbyists, the armies of lawyers, make the big campaign contributions, put the dark money into politics, do bought-and-paid-for experts.
In other words, shape all of the policy in a way that helps them, helps giant corporations at the top and doesn't help anyone else. 2020 is our chance to fight back. And that's why I'm in this fight.
VANESSA HAUC: Thank you, Senator. And before-- Senator, before we continue-- I would like your reaction of President Trump have called Mexicans drug traffickers, rapists.
ELIZABETH WARREN: Yes.
VANESSA HAUC: And yesterday in our exclusive interview with-- Telemundo, he called you Pocahontas when-- José Díaz-Balart told him that you were a great adversary. So what is the reaction to this type of rhetoric coming from the highest office of the nation?
ELIZABETH WARREN: Yeah, this is just plain ugly. It is. But it's ugly with a plan. And the plan is to turn working people against working people. It's to say to everybody in this country, "If you have a problem, if your wages have to gone up, that the cost of sending your kid to school has gone up, if health care costs have gone up for you and you can't afford housing, blame them.
"Blame people who don't look like you. Blame people who don't sound like you. Blame people who don't worship like you. Blame people who weren't born in the same place that you were born." Because so long as Donald Trump and the Republican Party can turn working people against working people, then they figure no one notices who's really getting rich and who's running this country. Well, I say enough of that. Working people know what's wrong with this country and we're ready to fight back.
VANESSA HAUC: Thank you, Senator. Your next question from Arturo.
ARTURO VARGAS: Senator, we're asking this question of all the candidates because how important the issue is to the Latino community and to this organization in particular. The nation's about to experience a constitutionally required decennial census under circumstances and policies that researchers, practitioners, and federal courts have said will result in an under-count, especially of Latinos.
Now if you're elected president, the census already will have been taken-- will have taken place. What would you do to remedy the 2020 census? And how would you restore credibility and integrity to it?
ELIZABETH WARREN: So let me start by saying I understand how deeply important this is. We need an accurate count. We need it so that we can get appropriate funding for health care and for education. We need it so we can have appropriate representation for voting. We need it so that all of our people here in the United States are counted precisely as the constitution declares.
It's also perfectly clear now what the intent of the Trump administration is. They're no longer even coy about this. It's not come out that they said the whole point of adding the citizenship question to the census is to try to suppress-- responses. And the experts say that's exactly what it's going to do.
So, here's where I stand on this one right now. That is, we have to wait and let the Supreme Court make its decision. There's been a lot of new evidence that's come in since the case was originally argued, a lot that exposes-- the politics that went on and what it is that the Trump administration is trying to do by the addition of this question.
Let's let the Supreme Court make a decision. But do understand this, if the Supreme Court decides to go forward and let that question be added and it's-- and we know it will suppress the response, I've been thinking' hard about this. And I will have a plan to deal with it. But we, but no, but this is really important.
This is not about dodging. It's about saying let the Supreme Court-- that's where it stands right now. There's been a lot of new evidence that's come in. I think it's critically important that the Supreme Court issue its decision, and then depending on a exactly what it is the Supreme Court says, I think we'll have the right response. But I get how important this is.
VANESSA HAUC: Senator, you have time now for your closing remarks.
ELIZABETH WARREN: Thank you all for inviting me here today. You know-- this really is a fundamental question in 2020 about who government is going to work for. Is it just going to work for a thin slice at the top? Or is it going to work for everyone else? My daddy, he ended up as a janitor. But his baby daughter had a chance, a chance to become a public school teacher, a college professional, gosh, a United States senator, and a candidate for president of the United States, all because somebody invested in opportunity.
That's the America I want to see. I want to see us put a wealth tax in. I want the top one tenth of 1% to just pitch in two cents so that together we can invest in the rest of America, in universal child care, in universal pre-K for all of our kids, in raising wages of every three-- every pre-school teacher and child care worker in America, of making technical school and two-year college or four-year college tuition-free for all of our kids.
Of putting $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions, and of cancelling student loan debt for 95% of the kids who have student loan debt. This is about our values. It's about where as a country we believe we should be investing. Should we leave that two cents with the top one tenth of 1%?
Or should we do what we know is right? And say, "You make it big. Good for you. Nobody wants to punish you. But pitch in two cents so that every one of our kids has a chance to make it in life." That's the America of our best values. That's what we have an opportunity to do. I'm so deeply grateful to be here. I see this an America where we really have a chance to dream big, to fight hard, and to win. That's what we can do. Thank you.
VANESSA HAUC: Thank you so much
VANESSA HAUC: Senator. Thank you for being here.
ARTURO VARGAS: Thank you so much.
* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *
Director, Programming Publicity