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'We need to live our values every day': Warren’s Tempe town hall spotlights immigration reform

PHOENIX – Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren lashed out at the Trump administration’s immigration policies last Thursday night, telling a town hall crowd of 3,500 that “while Donald Trump may be willing to look the other way, President Warren will not.”

The Massachusetts senator took the stage at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe to the music of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” a working-class anthem that has been the theme of her campaign since she announced her candidacy Feb. 9. The song echoes the details of the progressive agenda found on her campaign site, with one header reading “Rebuild the middle class.”

“This administration has cut down on the number of people who can be here legally,” Warren said. “That’s keeping families separated for months, for years. That does not make us stronger, that does not promote our economy, and it is not consistent with our values. We need to expand legal immigration.”

Warren’s comments were met with loud applause.

“We need to live our values every day, and that means no more breaking families up,” she continued. “Keep in mind that it is illegal right now in America to abuse immigrants, to sexually abuse children, to refuse to get medical care for those who need it.

“And while Donald Trump may be willing to look the other way, President Warren will not.”

Warren’s immigration plan includes the decriminalization of migration, separation of law enforcement from immigration enforcement and a complete remake of both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The town hall came shortly after the second round of Democratic debates, held Tuesday and Wednesday in Detroit. On Tuesday, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont defended their liberal policies from attacks by moderates.

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Warren told the debate audience that “small ideas and spinelessness” will not solve the nation’s problems.

Rep. Raul Grijalva introduced Warren to the Tempe crowd. The Boston Globe reported that Grijalva has endorsed Warren for the upcoming election, a change from his 2016 support of Sanders, who lost the nomination that year to Hillary Clinton.

“She is a bold, persistent, visionary leader who cares about working families – and because of this, she’s won my endorsement,” Grijalva told the Globe.

Warren also has differentiated herself from the crowded Democratic field of hopefuls through blunt statements about gun laws, health care and climate change.

“You want to understand why we face a climate crisis today? It’s 25 years of corruption in Washington that kept our government from doing what needed to be done,” she said.

At one point, members of the conservative activist group AZ Patriots attempted to disrupt the event, waving a Trump flag at one point, but were escorted out.

Cronkite News reporter Taniyah Williamson contributed to this story.

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Grayson Schmidt/Cronkite News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized President Trump’s current immigration policies, which directly impact Arizona. Expanding legal immigration would strengthen the economy, she said.