Kamala Harris is a Democratic junior Senator from California. Since her election in 2017, she has served on the Budget, Homeland Security, Intelligence, and Judiciary committees. Harris began her public service career after graduating from law school in 1990 when she took a job as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California. Later, Harris joined San Francisco’s City Attorney’s office as the chief of the Community and Neighborhood Division. In 2004, she was elected as San Francisco’s District Attorney, and six years later, as the Attorney General of California. Harris announced her presidential campaign on Good Morning America in January 2019.
On the Issues
AAI tracks the official and campaign-trail statements of each presidential candidate on the issues we care about most.
Click on an issue to read what Kamala Harris has said on the campaign trail.
For our take on why these are the 12 issues that are most important to our community, read here.
- "Our democracy is stronger when it’s fair and inclusive. We must #FreeTheVote to include those on parole. California's #ACA6 has my support." (9/12/2019, Twitter)
- “In 2016, over 35 million people with disabilities were eligible to vote, but only 16 million did. It’s imperative we invest time, energy, and money in getting people with disabilities registered and ready to exercise their civil right to vote.” (7/16/19, Twitter)
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
- “I believe safety is a civil right, a civil right to which all people are entitled, regardless of where they live.” (6/10/19, CNN)
- "We need a president who will fight for the equality of all Americans and reject hatred and bigotry. That’s why I support the Equality Act. Passing this Act is essential to protecting members of the LGBTQ+ community from being fired because of who they are and who they love." (6/12/2019
- “Passing the EQUALITY Act would send a clear message that discrimination against transgender people won’t be tolerated. No one should be fired or dehumanized by their employer simply for their gender identity or expression.” (3/18/19, Twitter)
“The burden of pay discrimination should not be put on women. When I am president, corporations will have to prove they are paying women equally.” (6/3/19, Twitter)
“I was part of the second class to integrate, Berkley, California Public Schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education. So, that’s where the federal government must step in. That’s why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That’s why we need to pass the Equality Act. That’s why we need to pass the ERA because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people.” (6/28/19, First Democratic debate transcript in The New York Times)
Securitization and Surveillance
- "Kamala would work with stakeholders, including civil rights groups, technology groups, and law enforcement, to institute regulations and protections to ensure that technology used by federal law enforcement — such as facial recognition and other surveillance — does not further racial disparities or other biases. She would also invest federal money to incentivize states and localities to do the same." (9/9/2019, Medium)
- "We have got to get serious about the impact and bias of new technologies like facial recognition." (9/19/2018, Twitter)
Kamala Harris is a co-sponsor of the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act (S.2403).
"42% of mass shooters show warning signs before committing their acts of violence. My new plan empowers law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of domestic terrorists and perpetrators of hate crimes before they cause harm." (8/15/2019, Twitter)
Note: This plan is available on her campaign website.
- "Heather Heyer should still be alive today. As we recognize the anniversary of Charlottesville, let's remember that there were not “both sides” to blame. One side was wrong: the one with the torches and swastikas. And we will continue to fight it." (8/12/2019, Twitter)
- "Today would have been Emmett Till’s 78th birthday. Yet his life was cut short when he was just 14. Lynching is still not considered a federal hate crime to this day. I have a bill to make it one. It's time we confronted this dark part of our nation's history and right this wrong." (6/25/2019, Twitter)
- “Hate is real in this country. The tragedies in New Zealand, Pittsburgh, and communities around the world underscore the urgent need for decisive action to curb the continuing rise of hate crimes here in America,” said Harris. “The Stop HATE Act would require a serious study of the role the internet plays in fostering hate speech and influencing people to commit hate crimes. We cannot allow these horrific incidents to continue.” (3/28/2019, Harris.senate.gov)
Criminal Justice Reform
"Thank you,@GavinNewsom, for abolishing private prisons in California once and for all. No one should profit off the incarceration of human beings. It's time we did the same nationwide." (10/12/2019, Twitter)
- "End the death penalty. End mass incarceration. End solitary confinement. End the use of private prisons. The criminal justice reform plan I released today will do this and more to radically transform how our nation ensures justice." (9/9/2019, Twitter)Note: This plan is available on her campaign website.
“I will tell you that on this subject [criminal justice reform], it cannot be an intellectual debate among democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly. As attorney general of California, I was very proud to put in place a—a requirement that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on.” (6/28/19, First Democratic debate transcript in The New York Times)
“As president, Kamala will continue to fight for end-to-end criminal justice reform. To ensure accountable and constitutional policing, she will double the civil rights division, renew and expand pattern and practice investigations, enforce consent decrees, and support legislation to end racial profiling. To help end the era of mass incarceration, Kamala will take action to legalize marijuana, further reform federal sentencing laws, end private prisons and the profiting off of people in prison, and push states to prioritize treatment and rehabilitation for drug offenses. She will also seek a federal moratorium on the death penalty.” (Kamala Harris 2020 website)
Bigoted Speech: Instances of Condemnation and/or Use
CNN: You are the daughter of immigrants. A sitting Member of Congress. A woman of color. How do you view President Trump's tweet [telling four Congresswomen to "go back where they came from"]?
HARRIS: I think it is unAmerican. UnAmerican. I think it is unbecoming of the President of the United States. It defiles the office of the President of the United States.It is irresponsible. It is hateful. It is hurtful, and he has taken the Presidency to a new low.
CNN: It's personal for you as well. You just told a story here in Davenport, Iowa about being told to go back to where you came from. Can you share this?"
HARRIS: Of course, but it's not one time. Who... many of us have been told that. And then I purposefully asked people at that event to raise their hands. And many hands went up. It is... for the President of the United... I mean it's one thing to hear it in a school yard or on the street, it is another thing to hear that from the President of the United States. And this is yet another example of the fact that the current occupant of the White House does not understand the responsibility that comes with that office. The President of the United States has a very powerful, powerful voice, and tool, which is that microphone. And it should be used in a way that reflects the strength of that office. And the strength of that office should be to lift people up, not beat them down. But this President, I guess, thinks that he becomes stronger by those who he pushes down. But that's not reflective of who we are as a nation, not reflective of the values we have as Americans. It is not reflective of our history, much less our vision for our future.
CNN: Do you take it personally as the daughter of an immigrant? You've written that..."
HARRIS: I take it personally as a member of the United States Senate. (7/16/19, CNN)
HARRIS: As the only black person on this stage, I would like to speak...
HARRIS:... on the issue of race.
MADDOW: Senator Harris...
HARRIS: And so what I will say...
MADDOW: If I could preface this, we will give you 30 seconds, because we're going to come back to you on this again in just a moment. But go for 30 seconds.
HARRIS: OK. So on the issue of race, I couldn't agree more that this is an issue that is still not being talked about truthfully and honestly. I -- there is not a black man I know, be he a relative, a friend or a coworker, who has not been the subject of some form of profiling or discrimination. Growing up, my sister and I had to deal with the neighbor who told us her parents couldn't play with us because she -- because we were black. And I will say also that -- that, in this campaign, we have also heard -- and I'm going to now direct this at Vice President Biden, I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground. But I also believe, and it's personal -- and I was actually very -- it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me. So I will tell you that, on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly. As attorney general of California, I was very proud to put in place a requirement that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on." (6/28/2019, Second democratic debate transcript at NBC)
Let's call the president’s racist attack exactly what it is: un-American.” (7/14/19, Twitter)
“I've personally been told, "go back to where you came from." It is vile, ignorant, shallow, and hateful. It has to stop.” (7/16/19, Twitter)
DIAZ-BALART:Thank you very much. Senator Harris, last month more than 130,000 migrants were apprehended at the southern border. Many of them are being detained, including small children, in private detention centers in Florida and throughout our country. Most of the candidates on this stage say the conditions at these facilities are abhorrent. On January 20th, 2021, if you are president, what specifically would you do with the thousands of people who try to reach the United States every day and want a better life through asylum?
HARRIS: Immediately on January 20th of 2021, I will, first of all -- we cannot forget our DACA recipients, and so I'm going to start there. I will immediately, by executive action, reinstate DACA status and DACA protection to those young people. I will further extend protection for deferral of deportation for their parents and for veterans, who we have so many who are undocumented and have served our country and fought for our democracy.I will also immediately put in place a meaningful process for reviewing the cases for asylum. I will release children from cages. I will get rid of the private detention centers. And I will ensure that this microphone that the president of the United States holds in her hand is used in a way that is about reflecting the values of our country and not about locking children up, separating them from their parents. And I have to just say that we have to think about this issue in terms of real people. A mother who pays a coyote to transport her child through their country of origin, through the entire country of Mexico, facing unknown peril, to come here -- why would that mother do that? I will tell you. Because she has decided for that child to remain where they are is worse. But what does Donald Trump do? He says, "Go back to where you came from." That is not reflective of our America and our values, and it's got to end. (6/28/2019, Second democratic debate transcript at NBC)
DIAZ-BALART: Senator Harris?
HARRIS: Well, thank you. I will say -- no, absolutely not, they should not be deported. And I actually -- this was one of the very few issues with which I disagreed with the administration, with whom I always had a great relationship and a great deal of respect.
But on the secure communities issue, I was attorney general of California. I led the second-largest Department of Justice in the United States, second only to the United States Department of Justice, in a state of 40 million people.
And on this issue, I disagreed with my president, because the policy was to allow deportation of people who by ICE's own definition were non-criminals. So as attorney general, and the chief law officer of the state of California, I issued a directive to the sheriffs of my state that they did not have to comply with detainers, and instead should make decisions based on the best interests of public safety of their community.
Because what I saw -- and I was tracking it every day -- I was tracking it and saw that parents, people who had not committed a crime, even by ICE's own definition, were being deported.
And -- but I have to add a point here. The problem with this kind of policy -- and I know it as a prosecutor. I want a rape victim to be able to run in the middle of -- to run in the middle of the street and wave down a police officer and report the crime against her. I want anybody who has been the victim of any real crime...
DIAZ-BALART: Senator, Senator...
HARRIS:... to be able to do that and not be afraid that if they do that, they will be deported, because the abuser will tell them it is they who is the criminal. It is wrong. It is wrong. (6/28/2019, Second democratic debate transcript at NBC)
“Let’s call these ICE raids what they are. They are a political stunt designed to break up families and spread fear. We are better than this.” (7/14/19, Twitter)
Kamala D. Harris joined with 38 members of the Senate Democratic caucus to introduce the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act on July 12, 2019:
“The inhumane treatment of children at our border is disgraceful and does not reflect our values. We are better than this. That’s why my colleagues and I introduced the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act – legislation that improves treatment of children and families at detention facilities, which are often overcrowded and unsafe, and reins in this administration’s cruel practice of ripping children from their parents.” (7/12/19, Committee of the Judiciary)
“The president and his administration have spent years demonizing immigrants and stoking fear in immigrant communities – that must end. The priority of law enforcement officers should be promoting the safety of the communities they protect, not rounding up immigrants at schools, hospitals, and places of worship. A victim of a crime should be able to run into the street and flag down a police officer instead of being made to feel like the criminal. We must take action to keep our communities safe for everyone.” (7/11/19, Harris.senate.gov)
“Immediately on January 20th of 2021 I will first of all we cannot forget our DACA recipients so I’m going to start there. I will immediately by executive action reinstate DACA status and DACA protection to those young people. I will further extend protection for deferral of deportation for their parents and for veterans who we have so many who are undocumented and who have served our country and fought for our democracy. I will also immediately put in place immediate process for reviewing the cases for asylum. I will release children from cages. I will get rid of the private detention centers. And I will ensure that the—this microphone that the President of the United States holds in her hand is used in a way that is about reflecting the values of our country and not about locking children up, separating them from their parents.” (6/28/19, First Democratic debate transcript in The New York Times)
DIAZ-BALART: “If someone is here without documents and that is their only offense, is that person to be deported?”
HARRIS: “I will say, no, absolutely not. They should not be deported…I led the second largest Department of Justice in the United States, second only to the United States Department of Justice, in a state of 40 million people. And on this issue, I disagreed with my president, because the policy was to allow deportation of people who, by ICE’s own definition, were non-criminals. So, as Attorney General and the chief law officer of the state of California, I issued a directive to the sheriffs of my state that they did not have to comply with detainers and instead should make decisions based on the best interest of public safety of their community. Because what I saw—and I was tracking it every day. I was tracking it and saw that—that parents, people who had not committed a crime even by ICE’s own definition, were being deported.” (6/28/19, First Democratic debate transcript in The New York Times)
- “As president, Kamala will fight to pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people living in our communities and contributing to our economy. While she wages that fight, she will immediately reinstate DACA and implement DAPA to protect DREAMers and their parents from deportation. She will also restore and expand Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who would face war or catastrophe if forced to return home. Kamala also believes we must fundamentally overhaul our immigration enforcement policies and practices—they are cruel and out of control. As president, she’ll close private immigrant detention centers, increase oversight of agencies like Customs and Border Protection, and focus enforcement on increasing public safety, not on tearing apart immigrant families.” (Kamala Harris website)
NO BAN Act
- Senator Kamala Harris is a co-sponsor of the NO BAN Act. (4/10/2019, congress.gov)
- "reverse President Trump’s Muslim Ban on Day One and fix the family visa backlog" (Kamala Harris campaign website)
- On the November 2019 Gaza flare-up: "The latest barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza on innocent Israelis cannot be tolerated–Israel has the right to defend itself from these horrific attacks. I join others in urging against further escalation." (11/13/19, Jewish Insider)
Harris: I think that Israel as a county is dedicated to being a democracy, and is one of our closest friends in that region, and that we should understand the shared values and priorities that we have as a democracy, and conduct foreign policy in a way that is consistent with understanding the alignment between the American people and the people of Israel."
Reporter: Does Israel meet human rights standards to your personal satisfaction?
Harris: Well, talk in more detail. What specifically are you referring to?
Reporter: As a county overall, in terms of how they-
Harris: Overall, yes. (6/20/19, The New York Times)
“As a member of both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee, I am deeply involved in insuring the American-Israeli relationship remains strong. And I am proud to stand strongly with America’s most important allies. So let me be clear about what I believe. Israel is a critical friend and ally to the United States. I stand with Israel both because of our shared values, which are so fundamental to the founding of both our nations, and I believe the bonds between the people of the United States and the people of Israel are unbreakable and we can never let anyone drive a wedge between us. And I believe, Israel should never be a partisan issue. I will do everything in my power to insure broad and bipartisan support for Israel’s security and right to self-defense. That is why I strongly support America’s security assistance to Israel and I am committed to strengthen the American Israeli security and defense relationship.” (6/4/19, Mondoweiss)
"Great to meet today in my office with California AIPAC leaders to discuss the need for a strong U.S.-Israel alliance, the right of Israel to defend itself, and my commitment to combat anti-Semitism in our country and around the world." (3/25/19, Twitter)
- “In the midst of uncertainty and turmoil, America’s support for Israel’s security must be rock solid. And as Iran continues to launch ballistic missiles while it arms and funds its terrorist proxy Hezbollah, we must stand with Israel. As Hamas maintains its control of Gaza and fires rockets across Israel’s southern border, we must stand with Israel. And as ISIS and civil war in Syria destabilize the region, displacing millions and threatening shared security interest, we must support all those affected by ongoing violence and terror, and we must stand with Israel.” (1/23/19, Medium)
- “I believe that we need to get back into the Iran nuclear deal. I would strengthen it. I would include ballistic missile testing. I think that we can strengthen what we do in terms of monitoring and verification, of progress. But there's no question that a lot of negotiation with a great deal of depth took place over a long period of time to reach that agreement, and it was it was an agreement that was being complied with by all parties.” (6/23/19, CBS News)
- “Today’s decision to violate the Iran nuclear deal jeopardizes our national security and isolates us from our closest allies. This nuclear deal is not perfect, but it is certainly the best existing tool we have to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and avoid a disastrous military conflict in the Middle East. As the international community and the Administration’s own national security team has confirmed multiple times, Iran remains in compliance with the deal. In the absence of an Iranian violation, it is reckless to break this agreement without presenting any plan on how to move forward. Instead of establishing a comprehensive, strategic national security policy, this Administration is far too focused on scoring political points.” (5/8/18, Harris.senate.gov)
U.S. Presence in the Arab World
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