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Daniel Hernandez, Intern Who Helped Save Giffords: Political Discourse Has Become "Completely Destructive"

Giffords' intern: Arizona "has been at the forefront of negative rhetoric."

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JUAN GONZALEZ: And Daniel, that this tragedy should occur in your hometown in Tucson, Arizona once again being the focus of national attention in a—not in a positive way, in terms of this shooting, but the—and as a Latino, your sense—many people around the country now look at Arizona as the new Mississippi, that so much intolerance seems to have developed there among—even among top leaders in the state, and the move against teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona, the Senate bill, the "show me your papers" law, and the efforts now of Russell Pearce to attempt to have legislation against citizenship in Arizona for what he calls "anchor babies." Your sense of how this tragedy may affect how the people of Arizona see how their state is—the image of the state across the country?

DANIEL HERNANDEZ: Although I do agree that Arizonahas been at the forefront of the negative rhetoric, it’s been both sides. So I’m not going to say that either side has had their hands clean of it. Of course, in Arizona, there’s one party that has more of a platform because they have more power in elected office. But I think it’s not just something that’s going to be happening in Arizona; I think it’s something that’s going to be happening nationwide, which is a moving forward with the political discourse. And I’m under no illusion that it’s going to happen under night, but I definitely see a gradual move towards more constructive political discourse, because even at the State of the State that the Governor gave, where she recognized myself and others, she made a promise to kind of take a look at some of the rhetoric that’s been used in the past in order to move forward and trying to work cooperatively. And I know that those promises are being made in a sensitive time, but I really do hope that, for the best for Arizona and for the country, that they will hold true to their promises, because it’s been both sides that are making these promises. And I think a lot of people are realizing that the political discourse has, for years, become completely destructive and more about tearing the other people apart instead of trying to work together to build up the nation and the state.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you a supporter, Danny Hernandez, of the DREAM Act, as you talk about focus on higher education, immigrants being able to become citizens who go to college?

DANIEL HERNANDEZ: Some of the work that I’d done with the higher education advocacy group was centered around trying to get the DREAM Act passed, which we worked closely with Congresswoman Giffords and Gabe Zimmerman, her outreach director, as well as Ann Kirkpatrick and Harry Mitchell of Arizona, when they were still in the Congress. So, it’s of course something that I had supported, but it’s something that, like I said, issues that Gabby and I were really close on in terms of our beliefs.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, we’re moving into Martin Luther King Day weekend, honoring his birthday, Arizona one of the last states to recognize it. You certainly, in your own actions, have made such a difference in representing diversity, beauty and love in your state. Final thoughts that you have on this weekend?

DANIEL HERNANDEZ: I think that the actions that one person took will not be able to define who Arizonans, Tucsonans or Americans are. And I think we are coming together as one big American family, like the President said, that’s 300-plus million members strong, to support those who have lost family members, unfortunately, and also those who have still remained in the hospital in critical condition. So I think, as we move forward, it’s important to support them as one big family, instead of trying to define what is the differences.

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