Cheryl Senter for The Boston Globe
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders Monday denounced President Trump’s anticipated decision to end a program that protects unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children as “one of the most cruel and ugly decisions ever made in the modern history of this country by a president.”
Addressing union workers at a Labor Day breakfast in a state he won by a large margin in his bid for president last year, Sanders blasted Trump for “trying to divide our nation up based on the color of our skin, based on the country in which we were born, based on our sexual orientation, based on our religion.”
“Our job as trade unionists, as our job as progressives, is to bring the American people together and to fight any and all attempts to divide us up,” Sanders said.
Trump is expected Tuesday to announce his plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which President Obama enacted by executive order in 2012. Such a change would affect about 800,000 unauthorized immigrants now shielded from potential deportation.
Trump is considering a compromise that would give Congress six months to come with up with an alternative plan, according to published reports.
Also Monday, Governor Charlie Baker added his voice to those urging Trump to keep the DACA program in place, telling WBZ Radio that “I’m hoping the president doesn’t repeal the DACA program, I’m hoping that he continues the DACA program.’’
Sanders, appearing at the Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manchester, gave his fourth annual address at the Labor Day Breakfast, hosted by the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. Sanders last year won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire in a landslide, defeating Hillary Clinton 60 percent to 38 percent.
Returning to many of his campaign themes, Sanders railed against income inequality, the decline of the middle class, and stagnant wages. He advocated for a $15-per-hour minimum wage and equal pay for women.
“We work some of the longest hours in the world,” he said. “We are now the wealthiest country in the history of the world. The bad news is that very few Americans know that because almost all of the new wealth and income being created is going to the people on top.”
He also lashed out at Trump for failing to keep some of the promises that helped him win over voters disaffected by the economy.
“It will not surprise you to tell you that Donald Trump lied,” Sanders said. “What he is doing day after day is not standing up for working-class people but standing up for the billionaire class.”
Rather than providing the “health care for everybody,” that he promised, Trump backed an reform proposal that would have cut insurance coverage for 32 million Americans, Sanders said. After promising to “drain the swamp,” Trump has brought more billionaires into his administration than any president in history, Sanders said.
“You don’t get to bring in the former president of Goldman Sachs and then tell us you’re draining the swamp,” said Sanders. “Goldman Sachs is the swamp.”
Within two weeks, Sanders said he would introduce a measure that would “profoundly change the United States of America” — a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care plan.
“Health care is a right,” he said. “This is going to be a monumental struggle, and we need everybody in this room’s help.”
Saying millions of Americans are still uninsured or underinsured, Sanders called for a health care system designed to care for everyone, rather than a system that will make “tens of billions of dollars for insurance companies and drug companies.”
While popular among many liberals, a single-payer health care plan would face sharp resistance from Republicans, who see it as a government takeover of the system.
“This is not going to be an easy fight,” Sanders acknowledged.
Other speakers at the event targeted Trump’s policies and urged labor groups to band together to fight them.
New Hampshire US Senator Maggie Hassan criticized Trump’s “so-called tax reform proposal,” which she said relies on “taxing retirement contributions of middle-class Americans so they can lower tax rates for the wealthiest among us.”
“That is not who needs a break,” she said.
New Hampshire US Senator Jeanne Shaheen pointed to other presidential promises — a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, middle class tax relief, and the tools to combat the opioid crisis — that remain unfulfilled.
“There should be no illusions about this president,” Shaheen said. “He and his administration are not labor’s friend. If we are going to rebuild a strong, secure middle class in America, if we are going to assure that hardworking Americans get their fair share, then we need to organize and we need to build strong unions again.”
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