Former Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential hopeful Deval Patrick discussed Monday the ongoing the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, mental health awareness and what he would do first as president of the United States at the latest "Politics & Eggs" event in New Hampshire.
Speaking to a sold-out crowd, Patrick began his speech by reflecting his upbringing on the southside of Chicago, much like the video he published to announce his run for the Oval Office.
Patrick said that although he does not believe in open borders, he understands why some immigrants aim to settle in the U.S.
"Can you imagine sending your 2-year-old unaccompanied over thousands of miles and what that means," he said. "What motivates you to do that? Really? A driver’s license? No, you were worried about the safety of your loved one. And you looked to the United States for safety and dignity."
The 63-year-old said a comprehensive immigration reform includes implementing “modern, humane, responsive, responsible systems and rules,” which he believes the U.S. does not currently have.
"I think one of the reasons we don’t, or one of the reasons we’re facing these issues we do, is because capital is global but labor is not," he said. "People go where there’s opportunity but we don’t make a way for people to come for that opportunity that is transparent, straightforward and is fair. But you don’t have to trade that for border integrity."
When asked how his presidency would make a difference on mental health in the U.S., Patrick recalled the troubles his wife endured when he first began as governor of Massachusetts. He said when his wife was hospitalized due to her depression and anxiety, the couple was open and honest about it to the public because she felt no shame in her battles.
"One of the things she is most excited about in being first lady of the United States is being a leader on those issues because some of this is just about bringing light where there are shadows," he said. "For getting past the shame."
Patrick also briefly touched upon the criminal justice system.
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"I think putting the notion of rehabilitation back into the criminal justice system is important," the Democrat said. "I think that minimum mandatory sentencing needs a huge overhaul."