As she ponders a run for president, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday visited Puerto Rico, where she condemned President Trump for considering the use of disaster recovery funds to build a “dumb” border wall.
“Puerto Rico has not been treated with respect,” she said to a crowd of a couple of hundred people gathered in a small theater. “It is insulting. It is disrespectful. This ugliness has gone far enough. Puerto Rico has suffered enough. We will not allow anyone to sabotage your recovery, not even the president of the United States.”
“With Trump, cruelty is not an accident, it is part of the plan,” she added.
Warren demanded the resignation of Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“Even now, even after the Trump administration has denied how many died and has dragged its feet on sending adequate disaster relief funds, the president of the United States has doubled down on the insult by toying with the idea of diverting your recovery funds to build a wall,” she said, according to prepared remarks. “Make no mistake — this wall is dumb. Security experts, law enforcement, even people in the Trump Administration, describe it as unnecessary and ineffective. But it serves the President’s purposes, turning people against people, particularly against people of color, and stirring up the fear and hatred he so actively promotes.”
She continued, according to prepared remarks: “Back when he was running for office, Donald Trump promised that Mexico would pay for this wall. Now he thinks that the people of Puerto Rico who are struggling to get back on their feet should get stuck with the bill instead. It’s insulting. It’s disrespectful. This ugliness has gone far enough. Puerto Rico has suffered enough. We will not allow anyone to sabotage your recovery — not even the president of the United States.”
She promised to help the island rebuild from Hurricane Maria, and support laws that would offer the U.S. territory equal treatment and debt relief.
She highlighted several steps to help Puerto Rico “on the road to recovery from the twin catastrophes of hurricanes and vulture debt.”
She said she wants to change the law to create a path to real, comprehensive debt relief for disaster-stricken places like Puerto Rico. ”I have proposed a Territorial Relief Act, which would give this island a chance to get out from under the thumb of Wall Street speculators. Congress should pass that proposal,” she said.
She also said she wants a “Marshall Plan” for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands: Vermont Sen. "Bernie Sanders and I have proposed a comprehensive plan that would allow the islands to rebuild. Congress should pass that proposal.”
Thirdly, she said that U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico should have the same basic support to which every other U.S. citizen is entitled — a full child tax credit, full Medicaid funding, and full nutrition assistance -- and urged Congress to pass these proposals without delay.
Puerto Rico is becoming a popular stop for Democratic presidential candidates and potential ones as they seize the opportunity to criticize the Trump administration for its hurricane response.
Last week, former housing secretary Julian Castro visited the island.
Assailing Trump for “a crisis of leadership,” Castro joined the 2020 presidential race on Jan. 12 as the rush of Democrats making early moves to challenge the incumbent accelerates.
Fox News’ Tara Prindiville and The Associated Press contributed to this report.