Tom Perez joins Jared Polis in urging Latinos to vote while calling out Trump’s latest immigration hot takes

The Democrats toured Servicios de la Raza, which has assisted the Latino community in the metro area for more than 40 years.
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Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez speaks on a panel at Servicios de la Raza, Oct. 30, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez made nearly everyone at Servicios de la Raza knock on the wooden table in front of them on Tuesday.

The cause? Mentioning congressman Jared Polis’ potential new job title.

“One of the many reasons I am so excited to be here with your next governor, if I may be so bold,” Perez said, prompting laughter and some superstitious tapping. “And the fact that we’re here is another illustration of his moral fiber.”

Perez told a group of mostly Latino organizers they must get out and vote to ensure Polis becomes Colorado’s next governor, calling this year’s election “the most important election of our lifetime.” He said social security and healthcare are on the line.

He contrasted what he called Polis’ moral compass with President Trump's.

“We see the moral compass of our president right now,” Perez said. “And it is jammed. That’s the most polite term I can think of. We need leaders who unite, not leaders who divide.”

Perez, a former Obama cabinet member who once lived in Denver, joined Polis and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet for a tour of Servicios de la Raza on Tuesday. They were joined by secretary of state nominee Jena Griswold and state treasurer nominee Dave Young.

Servicios de la Raza executive director Rudy Gonzales said they provide services primarily to low-income Latino residents. He said the organization has helped some 35,000 residents across several offices in the metro area. They run programs providing services for work workforce development, behavioral health, prison reentry, housing and gang intervention.

The stop was part of the party’s get-out-to-vote campaign. Democrats are traveling all over the front range and towns across Colorado, making dozens of stops while riding around in a giant blue bus imploring anyone who sees it to VOTE JARED POLIS.

Polis broke out some Spanish on Tuesday when addressing la Raza staff and community members.

“Your vote is your voice,” Polis said in Spanish. “I don’t fear that the people who are here in this room aren’t going to vote, but it’s the most important thing that all the community votes. Because it’s one of the most important elections in the future of our community here in Colorado.”

Gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis speaks on a panel at Servicios de la Raza, Oct. 30, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Polis and Perez heard from members of organizations including 9 to 5 Colorado, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), and Colorado Fiscal Institute. Perez said the folks in the room are “bridges to the community” who are in the best position to ensure that “hope is on the ballot.”

“We know so many people in this room collectively that can’t vote right now. We’re voting for them,” Perez said.

Perez said both Polis and Bennet are “anchored” by an understanding that the goal is to “share prosperity for everyone, not just prosperity for a few on the top.”

“They understand that zip code never determines destiny,” Perez said.

Polis said he knows the state can do better in putting families first. He seeks to improve access to healthcare, family and medical leave, and provide free full-day kindergarten.

"I believe as a value, that diversity is a strength,” Polis said. “Therefore, the more diversity we have, the stronger we are, economically and culturally. And that means contributions from disabled Coloradans, from immigrant Coloradans, from Coloradans of all faiths, all genders.”

Perez and Polis called out President Trump for remarks saying he intends to end birthright citizenship.

Trump said in an excerpt of an interview with Axios that aired Tuesday that birthright citizenship is "ridiculous,” adding he would potentially end it through an executive order he said “is in the process.”

"Now, how ridiculous, we're the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits," Trump said, incorrectly, in the interview. "It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end.”

Secretary of State candidate Jena Griswold (left to right), Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, Servicios de la Raza executive director Rudy Gonzales, Denver Democratic Party House District 4B co-captain Cecelia Espenoza and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis speak on a panel at Servicios de la Raza, Oct. 30, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Speaking in Spanish, Perez said, “our community is afraid. Our community is afraid, because every day, this president is trying to ensure that our community won’t vote.”

“It’s very simple,” Perez said, switching to English. “Fear, fear, fear. Look what happened in the last 24 hours. Every time he’s in trouble, his No. 1 dog whistle is immigrants.”

Polis said he is willing to stand up to Trump or others who “try to profit of division and fearmongering.” Polis added after the roundtable discussion that “thankfully, the president lacks the constitutional authority to make that kind of move."

“It would make our immigration problem even worse,” Polis said about ending birthright citizenship. “What we need to do is make sure there is a pathway to citizenship to aspiring Americans who are working hard and playing by the rules.”

When asked if Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton agreed with President Trump’s opinion, Stapleton’s campaign spokesperson Jerrod Dobkin said in a statement to Denverite: “This will be up to the Courts to interpret. As Governor, Walker will continue to call on Congress, whose job it is, to fix our broken immigration system.”

Trump’s suggestion comes at the heels of another, broader developing story related to immigration: The thousands of Central American migrants currently making their way to the U.S. border.

Trump has been a vocal opponent of allowing the migrants — most of whom intend to apply for asylum in the U.S. — to enter the United States.

“Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process,” Trump said in a tweet Monday.

So wait, can Trump just undo a Constitutional Amendment?

University of Denver associate professor of constitutional law Rebecca Aviel said in an email Tuesday “there is no serious argument that a President can override the demands of the Constitution by issuing an executive order.”

An executive order would likely be immediately challenged in court.

She said 14th Amendment “is one of the most important and intricate provisions of the entire Constitution.”

The 14th Amendment has been interrupted by the U.S. Supreme Court as guaranteeing birthright citizenship.

A delegation of Colorado Democrat candidates tours Servicios de la Raza, Oct. 30, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

“The provision that establishes birthright citizenship is the very first sentence of the 14th Amendment,” Aviel said in an email. “It states that ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.’”

“The provision means what it says: all persons born in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction are citizens,” Aviel continued. “The argument that some are making, that the children of undocumented immigrants are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, is absolutely specious.”

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