Less than two months into Donald Trump’s presidency, anxiety is running high in San Jose over a number of executive orders coming out of the White House. Immigration, in particular, was a topic on the minds of many who attended Sunday’s town hall hosted by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.
The House rep for California’s 19th congressional district, which includes most of San Jose and South County, Lofgren spoke on Trump’s order to deport all undocumented immigrants, healthcare, the environment and the Electoral College. As a former immigration lawyer and the senior Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, Lofgren opened up the public meeting by noting her opposition to Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban, after a federal judge blocked the initial order.
“The First Amendment says that you may not establish religion as government,” Lofgren said. “It’s clear from his comments and the comments of his assistants that what Mr. Trump was going to do was to bar Muslims from entering the Unites States, and that is an impermissible motivation that highly violates the establishment clause.”
The town hall had roughly 450 people show up to Mount Pleasant High School on San Jose’s East Side, a predominately Latino neighborhood.
“I think it’s important for our community to be represented,” said Mount Pleasant High School principal Martha Guerrero. “We’re a community of immigrants and it’s important, especially in the political climate that we’re living in, that our voices are heard.”
Guerrero thanked Lofgren for meeting with constituents, who often feel like their voices go unheard.
On the topic of immigration, Lofgren promised to do what she could to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy created by the Obama administration that protects qualifying undocumented immigrants from deportation. She also criticized Trump’s vow to build a wall on the country’s southern border, saying it would not only hurt relations with Mexico but also be funded at an excessive cost by taxpayers.
“I will do what I can to stop it,” Lofgren said.
Concerns were also expressed about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Lofgren noted that the plan put forward by House Speaker Paul Ryan would have a “terrible impact on families.”
The congresswoman was also asked about climate change and the new administration’s opposition to science that is widely accepted by the global community. As a senior member on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Lofgren has expressed exasperation with her colleagues and the Trump White House.
“People around the world are looking at us like ‘are they crazy?’” Lofgren said.
The congresswoman still expressed hope that policies could change.
“We’ve missed some opportunities, but we still have some chances,” she said. “We have a responsibility.”
One of the last questions presented to Lofgren asked if the congresswoman could get rid of the Electoral College, which put Trump in the White House despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 2.9 million votes.
“I got my voice, I got my vote and I’m going to use them both,” Lofgren said. “Never underestimate your power.”