DNC Chair Tom Perez on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Win and Obama’s Immigration Policies

Attendees at Thursday’s protest in Brownsville included Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Amy Goodman had a chance to interview Perez about Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, as well as President Obama’s record on immigration. They also talked about Tuesday’s New York primary, where 28-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated 10-term Congressmember Joe Crowley.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re on the road in Brownsville, Texas, broadcasting from the US-Mexico border wall. Just behind me, you can see this wall. You can see the International Bridge to Matamoros, Mexico. On this bridge, just behind where we’re broadcasting, people seeking asylum have been turned away, told there’s no room or to come back later. Many wait days or weeks, baking in the hot sun, sometimes with young children, fearing violence if they return to their home countries. In fact, we’re right in front of a section of the wall. This is the Rio Grande Valley area, where thousands of parents and children have been forcibly separated by the Trump administration after they crossed and were apprehended by Border Patrol agents.

On Thursday, more than a thousand people gathered here in Brownsville outside the federal courthouse to demand all the families be reunited. Today, we’re bringing you voices of protest. Among those at the protest was the Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez. I asked why he’d come to Brownsville.

TOM PEREZ: I’m here today because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. What has been happening at the border, where children, young children, some in diapers, are ripped apart from their parents, is not only illegal, it’s inhumane, so inconsistent with our values as a nation. This president, this Republican Party, has failed every test—legal test, moral test—of leadership. And I’m here to make sure that everybody knows that we are on their side. We, as Democrats, are going to be fighting for them. We’re going to—and we’re not going to relent.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, her victory over—

TOM PEREZ: Well, she ran a spectacular campaign. My two daughters texted me that night their excitement. I left a message for her about my excitement. She’s inspiring a lot of—

AMY GOODMAN: DNC didn’t support her, though, supported Joe Crowley.

TOM PEREZ: There was a—we didn’t get involved. No, we didn’t support—we didn’t support either candidate. We were not involved in that race.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how will you be involved now?

TOM PEREZ: Well, she’s—she has no opponent. I mean, we’re obviously supporting her. And that’s a safe Democratic seat. And I’m excited.

AMY GOODMAN: She’s for universal—she’s for single-payer healthcare. She’s for abolishing ICE. What about you?

TOM PEREZ: I’m for making sure that healthcare is a right for all, not a privilege for a few. And I’ve spent the last—dating back to my days with Senator Kennedy, working to make sure that healthcare is a right for all.

REPORTER: Should ICE—should ICE be abolished? Do think ICE should be abolished?

TOM PEREZ: I think Donald Trump should be held accountable for all the abuses that are occurring across the federal government. The buck stops with the commander-in-chief.

AMY GOODMAN: Tom, one last question. People here also raise concern that although Trump has certainly escalated the crisis, that Obama laid the groundwork, calling him the “deporter-in-chief.” Your thoughts on this?

TOM PEREZ: Oh, President Obama brought us DACA. President Obama brought us DAPA. President Obama helped to pass a bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2014. What they all have in common is Republicans took them apart. It’s important to remember that. If we had a Democrat in the White House, we’d still have DAPA. We’d still have—we could have DAPA. We would have comprehensive immigration reform. This one lies firmly at the foot of the Republicans. They are trying to divide this nation, period.