IOWA CITY — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders slammed President Donald Trump for threats to end the Obama-era DACA program, which protects immigrant children, during a speech in Iowa City on Thursday evening.
Trump reportedly as soon as today may end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or the Dreamer program. Formed in 2012 by executive order the program defers deportation for those who came to the United States illegally as children.
“It is shameful. It is disgraceful,” said Sanders, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. He said 800,000 children could be affected.
“We have to do everything we can to stop that from happening, and if it does happen call on Congress to pass legislation to protect those young people.”
Sanders spoke for about an hour during the event promoting his new book, “Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution.” The 1,800-seat Hancher Auditorium sold out.
He touched on the book, Trump, health care, social issues and many other topics from the campaign trail. Sanders finished second in a virtual tie with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucus in January 2016, kicking off an unexpectedly competitive primary with the eventual Democratic nominee, Clinton.
The book, published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, is intended to guide teens to get involved and effect change in the country. The Democratic Party needs an infusion of young people and their “idealism,” Sanders said.
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“We must stand up for a new set of priorities that says, ‘We are not going to turn our backs on millions of people around the world who are dying unnecessarily,’” Sanders said.
Sanders criticized the Democratic Party, suggesting it ignored many working-class Americans, and said Democrats lost the election versus Trump winning.
Sanders called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, improving affordability of public colleges and universities, and protecting the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which he said has worked. It must go further and health care must become a guaranteed right for all, he said.
Sanders addressed the flooding in Houston, calling the property damage unbelievable and suffering immense.
“The silver lining is the reminder that we are one nation and one people and what we are seeing in Texas is people coming together whether black or white or Latino, whether gay or straight, born in America or not,” Sanders said.
Abagael Shrader, 26, of Iowa City, said the comments about unity and Americans coming together regardless of difference struck a chord with her. So did discussion of student debt, she said, noting she’s carrying $100,000 in student debt as a public school teacher. She fears her students someday will face the same situation, she said.
“I came to get remotivated,” she said. “It’s been daunting.”
Sanders levied heavy criticism on Trump for “trying to win cheap political points by trying to divide us up.” He also offered his assessment of why Trump won.
Trump said he heard the pain being felt by people around the country, who largely were ignored by the mainstream media and the Democratic Party, he said.
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“He said, ‘I hear you,’” Sanders said. “It was a strong and effective speech, except he lied and he lied and he lied ... Just because he lied doesn’t mean his analysis was incorrect.”
Trump vowed to take on the establishment during his campaign, but changed course favoring the 1 percent since taking office, Sanders said.
Brad Dunlap, 47, of Coralville, also was on hand. He said he supported Clinton, but he aligns with much of what he heard from Sanders on Thursday.
“It sounded like he was trying to mobilize people to take up the cause,” Dunlap said. “Whether it’s to support him or the vision, is not clear to me.”