WASHINGTON — As Maryland senators gathered on the Senate floor in Annapolis Friday morning, Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat, asked for time to respond to President Trump’s reference about immigrants from “shithole” countries.
“We’re living in really contentious and divisive times,” Kagan said to her colleagues. “And it is shocking, deplorable and offensive when the president of the United States disparages groups of people, nations, and an entire continent.”
She was then interrupted by Sen. Robert Cassilly, a Harford County Republican. Cassilly addressed Senate President Mike Miller, challenging the Senate leader for allowing the comments on Trump’s conduct.
“This is just not an appropriate matter for the Senate of Maryland,” said Cassilly.
Miller then shifted gears, telling lawmakers that he would allow Kagan to comment once the agenda was cleared.
Famous poem cited
When Kagan did rise to speak, she referenced the poem “The New Colossus” that’s engraved on a plaque and mounted inside the Statue of Libertry’s pedestal.
“‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,’” she quoted. “It doesn’t say ‘depending on what language they speak, or what country they come from.’”
She concluded her speech by saying, “Please join me in condemning the language, the disrespect, and, yes, the racism that we continue to see coming out of this administration.”
Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a Democrat who represents Baltimore County and Baltimore City, applauded Kagan’s comments. Originally from Jamaica, Nathan-Pulliam added that “if all of the immigrants should leave this country, it would collapse!”
Sen. Victor Ramirez, who described himself as a proud Salvadoran-American, said “Nobody likes to be called names.”
“We want to make America great,” he said, before catching himself and adding, “I shouldn’t say that.” Some of his fellow senators laughed and applauded, noting the reference to the ubiquitous Trump 2016 campaign slogan.
Ramirez concluded by saying, “We’re all Americans, right?”
Cassilly finally stood to speak, saying as a Republican, he refrained from criticizing former President Obama’s policies on the floor of the Maryland Senate, “because I felt that kind of vitriol was inappropriate for the decorum of this body.” It was necessary, he said, to stay focused on the issues facing Maryland.
Cassilly was clearly frustrated with what’s become an emerging strategy on the part of Democrats in Annapolis — to tie President Trump’s policies to the GOP in Maryland.
“I realize that some people don’t want this president in the White House,” Cassilly said. “I realize that there are some people who find him offensive every day, but at some point, we’ve got to address the issues of the state of Maryland.”
Hogan: ‘Beneath the office’
Asked if Gov. Larry Hogan, a popular Republican running for re-election, had any comments about President Trump’s recent statements on immigrants, Hogan’s Deputy Communications Director Amelia Chasse released a statement from the governor saying, “The president’s remarks are beyond unacceptable, beneath the office, and unrepresentative of the American people.”