Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Richard Carmona: "I Had My Own Version of the DREAM Act"

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Democrat Richard Carmona's campaign team is touting a new poll that shows the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate just 2 percentage points behind Congressman Jeff Flake, the GOP frontrunner. The Public Policy Polling survey showed that 43 percent of voters were supporting Flake, 41 percent were supporting Carmona and 16 percent were undecided. The Range talked with Carmona last week; previous excerpts from the interview can be found here and here.

Richafd Carmona: And for those kids who are here and find out at age 18 that they don’t have papers? Why should we deport them and separate them from their families?
  • Richafd Carmona: "And for those kids who are here and find out at age 18 that they don’t have papers? Why should we deport them and separate them from their families?"
Your experience growing up in New York City informed who you are today and you’ve spoken a little bit about that. Can you touch on that?

Being in a poor family, your parents struggling to make the rent every week, not always getting food at night, sleeping with your clothes on when it’s cold—it does sensitize you to the extraordinary challenges of lots of families in our society today. So we call that the social determinates of health today—where you live, what your parents make, the level of education, all of those ultimately determine your health outcome. So a lot of what I understand today about how these very disparate dots are connected is because I learned—I learned through living. My grandmother and my mother were very powerful people in my life, who helped me understand my place in society and that I could achieve almost anything I wanted if I worked hard. I disappointed them, as did my brothers and sisters—we dropped out of school and all of that. But ultimately, the Army saved me. I got my GED, I got my G.I. Bill, I got into college only because of an open enrollment program at a junior college. Otherwise, I couldn’t have gotten in. I had no grades to speak of, or SATs, or any of that. So somebody had the forethought to see there are young men and women out there who deserve a second chance, who have the potential, who can contribute human capital to society, vs. leaving them out there and they become liabilities to the system. To me again, as I look at the DREAM Act, as I look at some of these things, I think I had my own version of the DREAM Act. Somebody said, “We’ll give you a chance, kid. And if you pass, you can stay here. You can graduate, and you can go on to be anything you want to be.” And I did.

You said President Obama’s order to not prosecute young people was are not in the country legally was “long overdue.”

I think it’s been politicized for too long. If you remember back a couple of years ago—four, five, six, I can’t remember—President Bush and Sen. Kennedy came together on this issue. They talked about a pathway to citizenship. And they introduced legislation in Congress. And quite frankly, Sen. McCain and Congressman Flake supported it. Now it’s not politically convenient to support it. But they got on board and they said, “Let’s do this.” Congress failed. And I think whether you agreed on the specifics, I just want to talk about the concept. You had two diametrically opposed politicians on almost every issue who came together in the spirit of democracy and said, “Let’s just solve the problem.” Let’s figure out a way that they pay a fine, get on line, and they earn the right to be citizens. But if they’ve been here working—why are they here? They're here because all of us have been letting folks in to do that, so if we’re going to hold them accountable, we should be holding ourselves accountable as well. So I thought that was really democracy in practice. And for those kids who are here and find out at age 18 that they don’t have papers? Why should we deport them and separate them from their families? Let them finish school. Help them go to college. Hope that they have the next great idea to add to a diversified workforce. So I’ve learned from my own experiences in life academically and, as you know, I’ve been a doctor and I’ve been a police officer on the border for more than a quarter-century. I’ve lived these problems every single day, with undocumented folks, with the COBRA laws, taking care of people, so I understand them. I understand the culture and I understand the language. So all of that came together in my life to help me understand that this should never be political currency. We should come together and solve the problem. That’s what’s important with the immigration issue.

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