LAS VEGAS (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris on Thursday cast President Donald Trump's merit-based immigration proposal to as a "short-sighted" plan that overlooks immigrant families
Harris, speaking to members of Nevada's fast-growing Asian American and Pacific Islander community, said the president's plan ignores the fact that many immigrants from Asian countries tend to migrate as families.
The California senator, who is the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, also spoke about her South Asian heritage and the importance of being a role model for communities of color.
Harris noted she was the first person of South Asian descent to be elected to the U.S. Senate and said the barriers she and others have broken help to redefine "images of who can do what."
"To win this election is certainly one metric of our success," Harris told a mostly Asian American crowd gathered at a Vietnamese restaurant in the Chinatown district of Las Vegas. "Equally important to me is at the end of this process, we are relevant."
Harris appeared before the group hours after the president unveiled an immigration plan that focuses on border security and shifts the green card system to favor those with high-level skills and degrees over the relatives of those already in the country.
The senator did not discuss the proposal in depth or detail her own immigration plan, but she called the president's proposal "short-sighted."
Harris was asked by one attendee how she will stand out from the crowded Democratic field, which had 23 contenders on Thursday with the entry of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
She replied by saying she will win because she served in elected office at the local, state and federal levels and has experience on a wide variety of policies. "Almost on every subject that we can discuss, I've done something," she said.
Harris said she wasn't making a criticism of any other candidate but said Democrats are "going to want someone with a proven track record of leadership. Not just somebody who can give a beautiful speech."
The senator drew on her background as a district attorney and attorney general, saying that Democrats need someone who can debate Trump "who has a proven ability to be able to prosecute a case against the policies of this administration."
Harris plans to meet later Thursday with Latino Leaders at a Mexican restaurant downtown.