From the start of his campaign in 2015, President Trump made vilifying immigrants and demonizing refugees a pillar of his platform. His rhetoric defied everything America prides itself on: being a beacon of light for refugees and a land of opportunity for all. Unfortunately, we learned very quickly that this wasn’t just rhetoric. The wall, the Muslim ban, family separation, and the reversal of protections for Dreamers and TPS recipients signaled that America was losing its identity. What was hardest to watch for me was the panic this incited in thousands of families.
Two years ago, House Republicans voted to strip away health care for 23 million Americans. Their vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would have gutted protections for pre-existing conditions, imposed an age tax on older Americans, and cut Medicaid funding for mental health services, the working poor, and people with disabilities. I will never forget the image of my Republican colleagues celebrating their deadly vote in the Rose Garden with President Trump as our office phones began ringing with calls of concern from families who were scared of losing their health care.
I received a call from Jen, a young woman who was diagnosed with lupus and needed frequent tests and specialized care to manage her illness. When her first pregnancy was deemed high-risk, her baby had to spend its first 24 hours in the ICU. Without the ACA, would Jen and her baby be denied coverage? …
Last week, I stood next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as five-year-old Emily handed her a poster-sized card that she made in school. The Speaker read it aloud: “Dear Speaker Nancy, thank you for coming to our school. Thank you for helping all children feel safe, strong, and free.” My heart is still warm from this touching and powerful moment. Emily’s card embodied exactly what our visit to her classroom was all about: empowering kids and in turn, our country’s future.