(CNSNews.com) - Following a rousing defense of legal status for DACA recipients and their parents, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) told CNN Monday night that she would not be willing to give them permanent legal status if it means giving President Donald Trump money for his border wall.
Jake Tapper asked Harris, "Would you be willing to vote for some border security money, wall money, barrier money to give permanent protection to DACA children, DACA young people like Cecilia? Would you be willing to make that exchange?"
Let me be very clear," Harris said.
I'm not going to vote for a wall under any circumstances, and I do support border security, and if we want to talk about that, let's do that. And let's talk about what really accomplishes border security, which is let's upgrade the technology. Let's look at the fact that the folks who are working on border security on the ground know that they need upgraded infrastructure, around things like drones, and they need cameras. So, yes, I'm all for increased border security where we need it.
I am not for a wall. And let me just tell you something. So here's the thing. I have worked on this issue on both sides. I have worked on this issue including being a prosecutor, who went after transnational criminal organizations. And let me tell you something. I'm talking about organizations that, for profit, engaged in the trafficking of guns, drugs, and human beings. That wall ain't going to stop them. Let's be clear about that.
Let's be clear about the fact that --let me tell you. I have been to the border. I have seen the tunnels. I have seen photographs of tunnels that had already been demolished with walls as smooth as the walls here, tunnels lined with air-conditioning and lighting because this is the level of sophistication that is going on with people who are trafficking in guns, drugs, and human beings for profit.
They're going underground, through tunnels. They've got boats. They've got drones. They're not jumping over walls. So the idea that we're going to sell this thing to the American public and require the taxpayers of our country to pay $5 billion for something that will not deliver what he is suggesting we need is ridiculous, and I will not support it.
Moments earlier, a DACA recipient named Cecilia told Harris she's tired of being used as a "bargaining chip." She said she's worried about the future of herself and other DACA recipients, as well as the possible deportation of the parents who brought them to the U.S. as young children.
"What solutions do you see to help protect the parents of DACA recipients or those for which there is no clear path to citizenship?" Cecilia asked Harris.
Harris used her response to Cecilia to criticize the Trump administration for breaking a promise made to them "in writing."
(President Barack Obama's Homeland Security Department -- not Congress -- established DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, with a memorandum. Yet the courts have blocked the Trump Administration from overturning Obama's executive action with an order of its own.)
"I have had serious concerns about the fact that they are refusing to keep America's promise to you and everyone who went through that process. And it is wrong, and it also is contrary to who we said we were," Harris told Cecilia.
The senator noted that all DACA recipients have been vetted to see if they are living a "productive life" and are worthy of deferred deportation:
And we promised them. And it is in writing. If you give us this information about who you are, we will not share it with I.C.E., and we will not use that as a basis for deporting you. We promised you that.
Then this administration came in and broke that promise. Broke that promise. And so what we have is bad role modeling, not to mention the fact that we have hundreds and thousands of young people like you who are presenting us with the promise of America and have to live in fear every day that you might be deported because an administration came in and broke America's promise to you. And it is wrong.
And on your point about parents, it is wrong, and you are exactly right, for this administration to then trade the idea that, okay, well, maybe we'll let the kids stay but not their parents. So yet again we have an example of this administration willing to separate children from their parents, which is inhumane and contrary to who we are and the values we hold as Americans.
And so I will say to you that I stand with you. There are so many who do, and we should not be trading on your life for the sake of the political games that this president is playing in trying to vilify young people like you, who are doing nothing except being productive and believing in and living the American dream.
The audience applauded enthusiastically, even though Harris never once mentioned that Congress could solve the problem legislatively.