Bernie Sanders returned to Arizona on Sunday, highlighting the delayed successes his 2016 presidential run secured for the Democratic Party and urging voters in the predominantly red state to keep fighting for change.
The 76-year-old independent senator from Vermont rallied supporters — and riled opponents — alongside Democratic Arizona Congressmen Ruben Gallego and Raúl Grijalva at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix.
The self-described democratic socialist has maintained a following among liberal Democrats in the nearly two years since he dropped out of the presidential race. He drew a young and diverse crowd Sunday, filling the 1,200-capacity theater.
“People said my ideas were too radical, but now look all over the country,” Sanders said, pointing to the uptick in states proposing higher minimum wages and decriminalizing marijuana. He also mentioned the $1 trillion infrastructure plan unveiled by Democrats last week.
Once someone stands up and fights for an unpopular idea, he said, “more and more people start thinking about it, and then it makes sense.”
Sanders also weighed in on immigration, pledging to find a solution that would provide legal status to the roughly 700,000 immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. The future of the program, which offered deportation protections for migrants whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally as children, remains uncertain.
“I want to say to (DACA recipients) here in Arizona: If you think you’re alone, you’re not alone,” he said. “Poll after poll shows 80 percent or more want to provide legal status to DACA and a path to citizenship.”
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