Immigration

Kamala Harris emerges as voice of immigrant advocates in the Senate

President Donald Trump hosted more than a dozen senators at the White House this week to discuss a solution for the more than 700,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children known as Dreamers. California Sen. Kamala Harris, however, was not invited.

For Harris, one of the most vocal champions of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the snub may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Instead of haggling with Republicans as part of the bipartisan group of senators behind a preliminary deal announced Thursday, Harris has used her platform as a rising star in the Democratic Party to keep the young immigrants’ plight in the public eye – and pushed her party to take a hard line in the negotiations to give them permanent legal status.

“It is about being the voice of a state with … the largest number of Dreamers,” Harris told The Bee this week. “They must be seen and heard, and I feel a very strong sense of responsibility to use every component of power that I have in terms of my voice and ability to educate the public to make sure they are seen and not vilified.”

That commitment has earned Harris rave reviews from activists. Harris’ arrival in Congress “has been a complete game-changer for advocates who work on this,” said Alida Garcia, coalitions and policy direct at Fwd.us, a technology industry coalition that lobbies for comprehensive immigration change.