7 DNC Speakers Who Stood Up for Immigrants in Day 1’s Fiery Speeches

Lead Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
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During the kickoff of the 2016 Democratic National Convention at the Well Fargo Center in Philadelphia, celebrities, politicians, and everyday people took the stage to explain why they’re backing Hillary Clinton for president. Sarah Silverman – a known Bernie Sanders supporter – explained she’s supporting Clinton because the party needs to be united. But instead of pleading with Sanders’ supporters, she bitingly said, “To the Bernie or bust people, you are being ridiculous,” before making muecas on the stage.

Michelle Obama reflected on her first time at the DNC eight years ago and made a speech that would be worthy of a presidential candidate. But she also credited Clinton with being the reason that young boys and girls will take seeing a female president in the United States for granted.

But not everyone jumped on board at the DNC. At an event where Sanders addressed delegates before the DNC, Rosario Dawson told a crowd that they could keep pushing Clinton further to the left. “[Hillary Clinton is] not a leader,” she said, according to The Hill. “She is a follower. She follows public opinion on things. If we stay strong … our revolution is dependent on your time, energy. Your blood, sweat, and tears.”

And despite some jeers inside the convention center, it was a mostly positive night – especially when juxtaposed against the Republican National Convention. Last week, speakers endorsing Donald Trump vilified Latino and immigrant communities. But the narrative surrounding immigrants at the DNC was starkly different. Here, they were prominently in the audience and invited to speak about their own experiences. Just in the first day of the convention, there were more Latino participants than last week’s RNC. And it made the event much richer. Here are seven of the best speeches from Day 1 of the DNC:


Karla Ortiz

Before taking the stage with her mother Francisca Ortiz, a February video of pre-teen Karla Ortiz played at the Wells Fargo Center. Through tears, the young girl asked Clinton for help so that her parents wouldn’t be deported. Right then, Hillary recognized Karla for being so brave and told her that she’d do all the worrying for the two of them.

On Monday, she and her mother walked out on stage hand in hand, and she explained that she’s an American-born citizen with two undocumented parents. “I want my parents to see me do science experiments and help me find my rare rocks… I want to grow up to be a lawyer, so I can help other families like us. I have hope. Esperanza. Hillary Clinton told me that she would do everything she could to help us. She told me that I didn’t have to do the worrying, because she told me she’d do the worrying for me and all of us. She wants me to have the worries of an 11-year-old, not the weight of the world on my shoulders.”


Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria has long been a Clinton fan, and in a very short speech, she talked about Trump’s hateful rhetoric. “I’m from a small town in south Texas,” she said. “And if you know your history, Texas used to be part of Mexico. Now, I’m ninth-generation American. My family never crossed a border. The border crossed us. So when Donald Trump calls us criminals and rapists, he’s insulting American families. My father is not a criminal or rapist. In fact, he’s a United States veteran.”


Adriano Espaillat

Born in Santiago de los Caballeros in the DR, Senator Adriano Espaillat has made history. Recently, he became a member of Congress. “I will be the first member of Congress who was once undocumented as an immigrant,” he said. “You take that Donald Trump. For us immigrants, our commitment to this country isn’t always found in our papers, in our documents.”


Astrid Silva

28-year-old DREAMer Astrid Silva has been described as the face of immigration. When President Barack Obama announced his executive action to protect millions of undocumented children and youths from deportation, he used Silva’s story as an example. “When I was four years old, my mother and I climbed into a raft, and we crossed the river to join my father in America in search for a better life,” she said. “All I had was a little doll. I grew up like an ordinary girl. My dad worked as a landscaper, and my mom stayed at home with my brother and I. But while my friends did ordinary things, I couldn’t, because my parents were afraid that someone might discover I was undocumented. My family believed so deeply in the promise of this country that we risked everything for the American Dream.”


Luis Gutierrez

Rep. Luis Gutierrez officially backed Hillary Clinton late last year. At the DNC, he shared some of his background. “My parents grew up in rural Puerto Rico,” he said. “They weren’t educated, didn’t speak English, [and they] didn’t even have a winter coat. Barely out of their teens they moved to the US and I was born in the great city of Chicago.

“My parents were born American citizens, but when they moved – along with half a million other Puerto Ricans in the 1950s – they were greeted with scorn and discrimination. Politicians called them criminals. They said my parents were dangerous, diseased, and would ruin the country. Sound familiar to you tonight? Nobody spoke up against the bigotry and hatred my parents endured. So you better believe I’m using my voice against the discrimination we hear today.”


Cory Booker

US Senator Cory Booker talked about the nation’s history of persevering. “This too captures our history: 240 years ago, an English King said he would crush our rebellion, but Americans from around our nation joined the fight,” he said. “From Bunker Hill to the Battle of Trenton, they stood, and so many fell giving their lives in support of our daring declaration that: America, we will rise. This is our history: escaped slaves, knowing that liberty is not secure for some until it’s secure for all, sometimes hungry, often hunted, in dark woods and deep swamps, they looked up to the North Star and said with a determined whisper, America, we will rise.

“Immigrants, risking their lives in a time of sweatshops and child labor, organized labor unions devoted to lifting the tired, and poor and huddled masses – with the fiercest grit, they shouted so all could hear: America, we will rise.”


Elizabeth Warren

US Senator Elizabeth Warren has spent months denouncing Trump, and on her speech on Monday, she didn’t disappoint. “Trump thinks he can win votes by fanning the flames of fear and hatred,” she said. “By turning neighbor against neighbor. By persuading you that the real problem in America is your fellow Americans — people who don’t look like you, or don’t talk like you, or don’t worship like you. He even picked a vice president famous for trying to make it legal to openly discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“That’s Donald Trump’s America. An America of fear and hate. An America where we all break apart. Whites against blacks and Latinos. Christians against Muslims and Jews. Straight against gay. Everyone against immigrants. Race, religion, heritage, gender, the more factions the better. But ask yourself this. When white workers in Ohio are pitted against black workers in North Carolina, or Latino workers in Florida, who really benefits?”