The following is a transcript of Hillary Clinton’s remarks Monday as provided by her campaign at the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza at Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City:
“Oh, thank you so much! Wow. I am thrilled to be here and to have this opportunity to address this group one more time.
“But I really thought I was coming to celebrate Janet’s wedding. My friend Janet has been married now since, I think, May 25th, and I thought this was all for her.
“And it should be, because not only did she have that great milestone with her new husband but she has completed 10 years as president and CEO. So let’s give Janet Murguia another round of applause for her service.
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“I want to thank everyone at NCLR for all the contributions that this organization makes to our communities and our country.
“You heard Janet talking about some of the work I’ve done, some of the experiences I’ve had working to increase opportunity. To help children live up to their own God-given potential. To try to ease the way for hardworking families.
“Well, that’s what you have done. You help workers get the training they need for good jobs in everything from manufacturing to health care.
“You empower Latino youth to reach their full potential as students, as workers, as leaders.
“You strengthen the Latino community by helping families build wealth – whether it’s buying their first home, avoiding foreclosure, or making sound financial decisions.
“So I am here primarily to say thank you. Thank you, because your work is a model for what we need to do across our country. We need more people involved like you and like this organization that take it upon themselves to become partners for prosperity, for progress on behalf of all of our people.
“That’s what I have heard as I have traveled across America for the past months. I’ve listened to the concerns that people have about an economy that still isn’t delivering for them the way it should – that still seems stacked for those already at the top.
“I’ve heard their hopes for the future: going to college, starting a small business, getting a job that pays well enough to support a family and provide for a secure retirement.
“I’m running for President to strengthen the basic bargain of America: If you work hard and you do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead. That bargain and the ideals that you and I believe in are what has always made this country great:
“We are at our best when we lift each other up and leave no one behind.
“When we have each other’s back and don’t turn our backs on each other.
“When we recognize that families are the backbone of our country and when families are stronger, America is stronger.
“That’s why I believe so passionately that we have to build a “growth and fairness” economy. I don’t think you can have one without the other. We cannot afford a return to the top-down economic policies that failed us before.
“After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Americans made a new beginning. And no one knows that better than the Latino community.
“Families supported each other, took second – even third – jobs, postponed home repairs. You figured out how to make it work.
“Now we’re standing again. But we’re not yet running the way America should.
“There are nearly 6 million young people in America today between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school or at work. And the numbers for young people of color are particularly troubling. Nearly 15 percent of all Latino youth cannot find a job.
“Yet corporate profits are at near record highs. Paychecks, however, have barely budged.
“Families today are stretched in so many directions, and so are their budgets.
“The out-of-pocket costs of childcare, college, and health care are rising a lot faster than wages. I hear this everywhere I go.
“The single mom who talked to me about juggling a job and classes at community college, while raising three kids. She doesn’t expect anything to come easy, but if she got a raise, everything wouldn’t be quite so hard.
“Or the grandmother who works around the clock providing childcare for other people’s children. She’s proud of her work but the pay is barely enough to live on, especially with the soaring price of her prescription drugs.
“And then there’s Juan, the DREAMer I met in Las Vegas. His dad lost his job in the recession. Then they lost their home to foreclosure. But they didn’t quit. They started a pool cleaning business. They quickly expanded from three pools to 50. And Juan told me with so much pride that he and his dad were not only supporting their family but helping others as well. If they can manage to keep growing, they can put memories of the crash behind them for good.
“Millions of hardworking Americans tell similar stories.
“The defining economic challenge of our time is clear: We must raise wages, incomes for hard-working Americans.
“We must create strong and steady income growth that lifts up families and lifts up our country.
“And that will be my mission from the first day I’m President to the last day I’m in office. I will get up and try to figure out what more I can do to work to try to give every family, every hardworking person the best chance to run the best race of life they can.
“I’m not setting some arbitrary growth target that has little to do with Americans’ lives and livelihoods.
“We need to grow. But we need to grow together.
“This morning in New York, I laid out an agenda for strong growth, fair growth, and long-term growth.
“Small businesses, like that pool cleaning company I mentioned, create more than 60 percent of new American jobs on net. So they have to be a priority.
“I’ve said I want to be the small business President, and I mean it. And throughout this campaign I’m going to be talking about how we empower entrepreneurs with less red tape, how we provide easier access to capital and tax relief and simplification.
“I will also propose the new investments that help businesses create the next generation of high-paying jobs. Investments in science and medical research. In infrastructure. In high speed broadband. In clean energy.
“And I will emphasize another key ingredient of growth that often goes overlooked and undervalued: We need to break down barriers so more Americans participate more fully in the workforce – especially women.
“We can’t afford to leave talent on the sidelines, but that’s exactly what we’re doing.
“Women who want to work should be able to do so without worrying every day about how they’re going to find or pay for daycare or what will happen if a child or relative gets sick.
“It’s time to recognize that quality, affordable childcare is not a luxury – it’s a growth strategy.
“And it is way past time to end the outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job.
“Just ask yourself this: How can it be that, on average, Latinas still make just 56 cents on the dollar compared to white men? And then do the math. All this lost money adds up. For some women, thousands of dollars every year.
“But for far too long, these challenges have been dismissed by some as “women’s issues.” Well, as far as I’m concerned, those days are over.
“Forty percent of married Latina mothers bring home at least half of their families’ income.
“So when women are held back, families are held back. And when families are held back, America is held back.
“As President, I will always fight to put families first – just like I have throughout my entire career.
“Now, you probably heard Governor Bush say last week that Americans just need to work longer hours.
“Well, he should tell that to the farm workers breaking their backs picking fruit in Southern California.
“Or he should tell that to the dishwashers working their hands raw in the kitchens of Las Vegas. Or he should tell that to the nurse who stands on her feet all day, or the trucker who drives all night, or the fast food workers marching in the streets for better pay.
“They don’t need a lecture – they need a raise.
“If you work hard in America, you ought to be paid fairly. So yes, we have to raise the minimum wage and implement President Obama’s new rules on overtime.
“But we have to go further.
“I will crack down on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as independent contractors or even stealing their wages – which happens too often in too many places.
“And I will fight back against efforts across our country to undermine worker bargaining power. You know, Republican governors like Scott Walker have made their names stomping on workers’ rights.
“And practically all the Republican candidates hope to do the same as President. Well, I will stand up to these attacks. If we want to get serious about raising incomes, we have to get serious about supporting union members.
“And our commitment to opportunity for all has to begin early, with our kids. They deserve and need the chance to get off to the best possible start.
“But too many of our children are starting off behind, especially in families where economic pressures on parents translate into less time and support for their kids.
“Children who hear fewer words – whether in English or in Spanish – as they are beginning their lives, learn fewer words. And they begin school with smaller vocabularies, and then they struggle to ever catch up.
“More than one-quarter of all American kids under 5 years old are Latino.
“And they are disproportionately affected by this “word gap.” They are also less likely to have access to formal child care or preschools.
“That’s why at the Clinton Foundation, I started an initiative called Too Small to Fail, to help parents and grandparents and family members become their babies’ first teachers. And we joined with Univision to reach Hispanic families.
“I’m also making early learning a top priority in my campaign. Now, it may be, to be honest, because I’m a new grandmother. And there’s just something about being a grandmother – I have to tell you, it is just the most extraordinary experience. For all of you who are grandparents in the audience, you know what I mean. There’s just a sense of love and protectiveness and hope and caring for that little baby that is just extraordinary.
“So when I look at her and I think about the future that I hope she’ll have, I think about all the kids in our country. I want every child to have the same chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.
“That’s why I want to provide access to high-quality preschool for every four-year-old in America.
“It’s why we have to invest in our students and teachers at every level. And in the coming weeks and months, I will lay out specific steps to improve schools, to make college truly affordable, and to help Americans refinance their student debt, which is a huge burden for so many.
“Because when all Americans have the chance to study hard, work hard, and share in our country’s prosperity, we will have growth that’s strong, fair, and long term.
“It’s what I’ve always believed in and what I’ll fight for as President.
“Now, there’s one issue that cuts across everything I’ve talked about here today.
“If we want strong growth, fair growth, and long term growth – we need finally to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
“Bringing millions of hardworking people into the formal economy would not only be the right thing to do, but it would increase our Gross Domestic Product by an estimated $700 billion over 10 years. Fixing our broken immigration system would lower the likelihood of exploitation and suppressed wages – and potentially create billions of dollars in additional tax revenues.
“And the positive effects will ripple out across our economy, benefitting everyone in the country.
“So there is no doubt, this is an economic imperative. It’s also a family imperative. And a moral imperative. It’s an American imperative.
“And as President, I will fight everyday for comprehensive immigration reform with a real path to citizenship for families across America.
“And I will defend President Obama’s executive actions and stand up against any attempt to expose DREAMers to deportation.
“And, if Congress continues to refuse to act, as President I would do everything possible under the law to go even further.
“There are more people with deep ties and contributions to our communities – like many parents of DREAMers – who deserve a legal chance to stay and not worry about their family being broken up because of deportation.
“You know all know so many of this people. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: Everybody in America knows these people. Maybe they won’t admit it, maybe they won’t acknowledge it, maybe they won’t show respect.
“But we know these people.
“And I don’t have to wait to become President to take a stand right here and right now against the divisive rhetoric that demonizes immigrants and their families.
“It was appalling to hear Donald Trump describe immigrants as drug dealers, rapists, and criminals. He’s talking about people you and I know, isn’t he? He’s talking about people who love this country, work hard, and want nothing more than a chance to build a better life for themselves and their children.
“And when people and businesses everywhere rejected his hateful comments, did he apologize? No. He doubled down.
“It’s shameful. And no one should stand for it.
“So I have just one word for Mr. Trump: BASTA! Enough!
“And to all the other Republicans running for President: Why did it take weeks for most of you to speak out?
“You’re normally such a talkative bunch. Suddenly you have nothing to say?
“The sad truth is that even if some of the other candidates now condemn those words, if you look at many of their policies – it’s hard to tell the difference.
“When they talk about “legal status,” that’s code for second-class status.
“When they talk about rolling back the President’s executive actions, that’s code for tearing families apart.
“Do they really think they can get away with that kind of double speak?
“It’s not enough to use language of respect if you refuse to support policies of respect.
“You know, as a mother, and a grandmother, and an American, I don’t understand how anyone could think we should break up more families or turn away more talent. We should accept nothing less than full and equal citizenship.
“Families, organizers, and advocates have helped shine a light on our broken immigration system and the urgent need to fix it. We should all follow your lead – and get this done once and for all.
“Together, we can build a stronger, fairer, more prosperous and inclusive America.
“I’m running to make our country work for you and for every American.
“For the struggling, the striving, and the successful.
“For the farmers who feed us and the small business owners who took a risk.
“For the teachers who inspire us and the veterans who protected us.
“For every child who lives in the shadow of discrimination and deportation.
“And for every parent who dreams of a better future.
“I’m running for everyone who’s ever been knocked down, but refused to be knocked out.
“I’m running to raise us up, to make us what we know we should be, to fulfill the promise of our values and ideals. To make clear that this country that has given so much to so many has to keep reinventing itself.
“We are not guaranteed anything in life, and our country is not guaranteed anything either. Every generation, we have to keep investing. We have to keep the guarantee of a better future alive.
“So this campaign will be filled with all kinds of speeches and rhetoric. But let’s keep focused on what really matters. Because we can’t turn away from the challenges we face today. Otherwise we will not recognize our country.
“We have to stand up together. I’m running for President not because I think I alone can solve any of these problems. I’m running because I know that we have to work together. I want to be a convener and a catalyst and a colleague in solving problems, like so many of the ones that you individually, in your communities, through your businesses and organizations, and certainly through NCLR have tackled.
“Because I believe with all my heart that we can meet the challenges of today, just as prior generations met the challenges of their time.
“So as I go out across our country, I want to hear from you. I want your ideas. I want your plans about what we can do, together.
“I’m running to bring us together, to solve problems together. To make the kind of difference that I know is possible.
“You know, I said there’s nothing like being a grandmother, in my experience. And I’ve thought a lot about it. I think, on the one hand, it really anchors and centers you in the present. You know, when Bill and I are taking care of Charlotte, nothing else matters. You know, our phones are left behind. We don’t want to be bothered. We’re just totally engaged in the moment in watching this little miracle unfold.
“And like every grandparent, we think everything she does is amazing. She claps her hands, we give her a standing ovation.
“But at the same time, just watching her, thinking about her, makes us consider the future. We will do everything possible to give her every opportunity, and we hope she’ll have the character and the hard work ethic to take advantage of those opportunities.
“But then we ask, what kind of country will be waiting for her when she becomes an adult? What kind of world will be out there? How will she find her way?
“And it’s so important, I think, for all of us to realize that we have to hope to give every child the same chance that we have given to our own.
“That’s what motivates me. It’s what’s motivated me my entire life.
“You know, when I was about 10 or 11 years old, I signed up at my church – in the suburb of Chicago where I lived, the Methodist Church – to babysit on Saturdays for the children of Mexican migrant farm workers. And one of our mothers – there were a group of four or so of us who had done this – one of our mothers would drive us out and stay with us, because we were so young, while the older children went into the fields with their parents.
“And we would take care of the little children. We would play games with them, we’d read to them, we’d try to get them to take a nap – not easy.
“And we would wait for the parents and siblings to come back.
“I remember like it was yesterday. The first time at the end of this long dirt road, the old ramshackle bus that transported the family members to the fields came back around 6 o’clock. The children we were babysitting could not contain themselves, they were so excited. And they immediately burst free from us and began running down that road.
“And as their mothers and their fathers and their uncles and their aunts and their big brothers and their big sisters got out of that bus, those children were lifted up and embraced by people who were tired, who’d worked all day, but who loved their children so much.
“I was just a child myself. But I watched and I thought, “They’re just like us.” I used to run when I was their age to meet my father when he came home from work. And he would bend over and he would lift me up.
“I want for every child everywhere in our country to have that same sense of hope and possibility.
“Please join me in making that one of the core missions of this presidential campaign. Don’t let it get trivialized. Don’t let us get knocked off course. Let’s stay focused on what will make us fairer, stronger, better as people and as Americans, and then truly serve this country better.
Thank you all so much. Thank you. God bless you.”