Astrid Silva, an immigration activist and “dreamer,” delivered the Democratic response to President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. Below is the English translation of Silva’s response.
Good evening. My name is Astrid Silva and I am a “dreamer” and activist from the great state of Nevada. My family came to this country when I was 4 years old, looking for a better life. And like many of you, it is the only home that I have known. It is an honor for me to be here today to give the Democratic response in Spanish to the first speech by President Trump before Congress.
I am here representing the Democrats, the Latinos and the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are an integral part of this country and who constitute the values and the promise of the United States, and whom Trump is threatening with his mass deportation plan.
The speech by President Trump that we heard moments ago was divisive and its goal is to cause fear and terror in communities across the country. This serves as evidence and notice that the plans and vision of President Trump and the Republicans go completely against our values as Democrats, as Americans and as human beings.
The United States is not a country guided by hatred, fear and division as he makes it look like. Our country is guided by respect, hard work, sacrifice, opportunities and hope. In this country, there is no place for discrimination, racial prejudice or persecution.
However, this is what the administration of President Trump has brought about for Latinos and immigrants. During his first weeks as president, Trump signed executive orders that put our entire community in danger. He took actions that specifically aim to harm the immigrant community and refugees.
He is spending resources to transform working families into targets for deportation. He wants to spend thousands of millions of dollars to build an unnecessary wall. And he is seeking ways to deny entry to our Muslim brothers and sisters.
He has made very clear since the days of his presidential campaign that he wanted his supporters to believe that we immigrants are criminals and refugees are terrorists. And recently he directed immigration officers to arrest and deport any undocumented person that they encounter, essentially legalizing racial prejudice and setting his mass deportation plan in motion.
Among the people who were captured are mothers, fathers, dreamers, recipients of DACA, a victim of domestic violence and many more. Indeed, in the gallery of Congress today, listening to President Trump’s speech were the children of Guadalupe García de Rayos, a working mother from Arizona who reported for her appointment with ICE only to be arrested and deported for no reason.
Today, Guadalupe is far away from her children, who are U.S. citizens and are an example of the great impact that Trump’s actions have over the American people in general, not only in the undocumented community.
These people must not be a target or priority of ICE. This is not the kind of country that we are. President Trump is returning to the darkest times of our history, criminalizing whoever is different, pitting us against one another, and sending a mistaken message to the rest of the world, thus helping foment the anger and hatred of terrorist groups toward our country.
But we must remember that this country is good and full of hope, where freedom of speech reigns and the people have the power. Instead of mass deportation, President Trump should focus on creating jobs and growing our economy. He should recognize the contribution of immigrants, from which he himself has benefited.
Instead of separating families, President Trump should pass a sweeping reform that would honor this country’s tradition of welcoming immigrants. Instead of closing the door on Muslims and insulting countries around the world, President Trump should work with our allies to fight and defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups and seek peace.
Instead of being on the side of oil corporations and special interests, undoing our progress in fighting climate change, President Trump should be a leader in protecting the quality of our air and our water, because we only have one planet. And if we destroy it, what will we leave for our children?
We Latinos suffer from asthma more than other groups. The condition of the environment is key for our well-being. Instead of repealing the health care law, which gave health insurance to millions of Latinos, Trump and the Republicans should improve it so that the program cover more people and be less expensive.
The Republicans want to cut funding to Planned Parenthood even though community health clinics provide preventive and primary health care for hundreds of thousands of people.
People across the country are attending town hall meetings with their Republican senators and congressmen and expressing their discontent with the possibility that they take away access to health insurance from millions of people, many of whom can’t pay for it on their own. The Republicans must listen to these people and make sure that the nearly 30 million Americans don’t lose their coverage.
And instead of hiring millionaires and Wall Street executives for his Cabinet, such as Steve Mnuchin, President Trump should fulfill the promise of working for the well-being of the American people. Our schools need more funding, our teachers better salaries and our vulnerable children need protection.
We don’t need an education secretary like Betsy DeVos, who has worked to weaken our public education system and who has personally benefited from cutting funding to our schools. The fight for the confirmation of the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is nearing. Now more than ever, we need a check on an out-of-control administration.
Judge Gorsuch must confirm that he will be an independent judge, that he won’t yield to the administration. We are living in times of uncertainty, completely outside of the ordinary, in which the administration is constantly questioning the news media and actively tries to destroy its credibility.
We can’t allow those actions to become normal. It demands that those of us who understand the risk for women, for the LGBT community, for our environment, for the workers, immigrants, young people and refugees, work together to protect our communities from deportations, violence and discrimination.
Only that way will we be able to claim the values that make this a great country. We immigrants and refugees are the soul and the promise of this country and we are not alone. The Democrats have made a pledge to fight for us and for the working middle class. They are our line of defense against President Trump and the harmful policies of the Republicans in Congress, in the Senate, in the courts and in the streets.
We Democrats understand that we must protect our immigrant families, that we must improve our infrastructure, that we need better jobs with higher salaries and that the cost of higher education is too high.
We must make changes so that education, the great equalizer, be within everyone’s reach. We Democrats want equality, respect, and that all people have the opportunity to fulfill themselves. Because we know that our nation is stronger when we treat each other with respect and when we work together for the common good.
I was lucky to grow up surrounded by my family and to fulfill my aspirations. I was able to go to school and university, I obtained an arts certificate from the College of Southern Nevada and my bachelor’s from Nevada State College. I am a living example of the promise of this country. And I know that Democrats will continue to fight for the promise of a better life for all.
President Trump and the Republicans can use calmer rhetoric and appear moderate, but we know that the wind blows words away. Actions are what matter.
I am here today to tell you that Democrats are with us and to ask you not to lose hope because we are in the struggle together. May God bless you. Thank you very much and good night.