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Martelle: The second question: You mentioned migration. And we’ve already seen climate change as one of the factors pushing people from Central America. What would you do broadly about dealing with the Central American migration flow?
Inslee: One, I would try to reduce the incentive for people to leave their homes, and that would include some of the obvious things of trying to do economic development in that region, which Trump has canceled. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. If we want people to survive in their homes, it would help to have a meaningful economy. So I would do the things that would increase our assistance to help those economies thrive. No. 2: I would try to deal with the climate crisis, ‘cause these are — many of these folks are climate refugees today.
Martelle: In the Guatemalan highlands, especially.
Inslee: In the Guatemalan highlands they literally are starving to death. They can’t grow a crop. This is a story across the world; this is not unique to Guatemala.
Healey: Right, but you can’t make it rain. They’ve had a drought there for more than a year.
Inslee: Correct. And droughts are going to become much more frequent over time. So, what percentage are climate refugees? I don’t know. But there’s some percentage that are climate refugees, and it’ll get worse over time. No. 3: I will develop an asylum system that is not based on inhumanity and terrorism of young children. And that’s pretty much what Donald Trump’s strategy has been based on. This is an intentional infliction of distress he has tried to create. And I think we should follow the law and have a humane system on the border. That means to have an asylum system that is much more rapid in the decision. I don’t believe that the majority of these people have to be packed in detention centers. We found a 99% compliance rate with allowing people to be on their own recognizance pending their hearing. I think that is tenable thing to do. It was 99% compliance during the Obama administration on their program. I would certainly do comprehensive immigration reform, that goes without saying. And I would apply what we are doing for Dreamers [in Washington state], which is just… I mean my blood just gets boiling to think putting these Dreamers on the chopping block and using them as a tool right now. It makes me so angry. These kids — I shouldn’t say kids — you know, they’re in our colleges, and I was one of the first to get them in-state tuition and financial aid and they’re just so inspiring, and the fact they’re being victimized it drives me nuts. So that’s what I would do. (7/24/2019, Los Angeles Times)
“He has tried to threaten me, saying, ‘Well we are going to send our refugees to Washington’ and my response was, ‘Send them. We like refugees, we welcome immigrants in our state. He has decided to bring a reign of terror for one reason and that’s to try to restore his failing presidency. I got news for him, this inhumanity is going to end his presidency.” (7/12/2019, Roll Call)
In May, Inslee signed a law forbidding local and state law enforcement from asking citizens about their immigration status, complying with ICE requests to detain immigrants at their facilities, or notifying ICE when an individual was released.(7/12/2019, Roll Call)
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted ask you about refugees. We’re seeing many people coming up from Central America. Some people believe many of them are climate refugees, as well, but also fleeing gang violence and deep poverty there. You were one of the leaders among governors, obviously, in opposing President Trump’s efforts to not only have the Muslim ban, but also on immigration issues. Talk about what you’ve been doing in Washington.
GOV. JAY INSLEE: Well, we’ve been standing up to Donald Trump. I’ve now sued him and defeated him 21 times in a row, with Bob Ferguson, our excellent attorney general, at the helm. We need to stand up for democracy, in all its measures and value system. Your logo has a Statue of Liberty on it. And I believe the light from that statue should continue to shine across the United States. It is an ancient thing, light, we should guard jealously. And I did that, and I’m proud I was the first governor to stand up against his Muslim ban. I was also the first person to say we should accept Syrian refugees, even before, I think, that that issue came up.
And the reason is, is that this is not only a matter of compassion of the United States. We are a compassionate nation, taking in the refugees and those, you know, fleeing, the huddled masses yearning to be free. This is something that’s deeply ingrained in our hearts in the United States. But it is also an economic development issue. Look, we’ve grown our economy because we have geniuses who have come from nowhere and now created businesses in my state. The DREAMers who are in my state are some of the most ambitious, creative, going to be productive businesspeople and doctors. That’s why I’m proud of being the first governor to make sure the DREAMers get access to college education. So, I believe that the current situation is unfortunate—
AMY GOODMAN: What about what Governor Newsom is doing? It looks like he’s about to sign this bill that will increase the access of undocumented immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25, something like that—around 90,000 of them will get healthcare.
GOV. JAY INSLEE: So, we are taking steps in that direction. We started with our youthful folks in that situation, and we make sure that we have ERs open to them. But first they have to have access to not be put in cells and have the children separated from parents, like Donald Trump is doing.
And as you indicated, what is so maddening about this is that the president refuses to go to the source of this problem, which many of these people are climate refugees today because they simply can’t be subsistence farmers. Because the climate has changed so much, you can’t grow crops, particularly at higher elevations in Central America. So they’re starving to death. And the president refuses to recognize the reality of climate change. He’s going to allow it to become worse, because he just doesn’t give a hang or is too scientifically illiterate. Each are fatal.
Now, secondarily, it makes sense for us to make investments there, so we don’t have to make them on the border, to try to improve the economies of those regions, so people can stay in the place of their homeland. And those are smart investments to make. But instead, he wants bumper stickers and confrontation. There’s a better way. (6/11/2019, Democracy Now!)
“We have to boost our ability to process people seeking asylum. We do have increasing numbers of people and we do have to increase the capability to process those and to figure out those who really legitimately are entitled to asylum and those who are not. It takes additional agents and immigration judges. Third, we got to not waste our money on a wall which is a vanity project. The republicans themselves agree it is a ridiculous waste of money. Fourth, we need a comprehensive immigration reform. We’ve got over 11 million people here who are working in our industries, who are our neighbors, who are paying taxes, who are coaching our kids in soccer. Those folks and our country deserve a comprehensive immigration reform. The last thing that I’ll say is, we need to protect our dreamers. I was one of the first governors who made sure that our dreamers get access to college education because these young people are some of the most inspiring, aspirational new physicians and lawyers and business people. To use them as a bargaining chip as Donald Trump has done, that cruelty has got to end.” (4/11/19, CBS News)
“There is no reason for the detention and separation of these children. They should be released pending their hearings and they should have a hearing and the law should be followed. That is what should happen and we should do what we are doing in Washington state. I am proud that we have passed a law that prevents local law enforcement from being turned into mini ICE agents. I am proud to have been the first governor to stand up against Donald Trump’s heinous Muslim band. I am proud to be a person who has not only talk to about dreamers but being one of the first to make sure that they get a college education so that they can realize their dreams. These are some of the most inspirational people in our state and I will leave you with this thought if you want to know what I think. Donald Trump the other day tried to threaten me, he thought it was a threat to tell me that he would send refugees in Washington state if we passed the law that I passed. And I told him, that’s on a threat at all. We welcome refugees into our state. We recognize diversity is a strength. This is how we built America. That tradition is going to continue if I’m president.” (6/26/19, First Democratic Debate, citing transcript from The New York Times)