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Markey discusses health care, immigration at Springfield town hall

  • A group of children from Community Music School of Springfield sing at the opening of U.S. Sen. Edward Markey's town hall discussion, Monday at Forest Park Middle School in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • U.S. Sen. Edward Markey speaks during his town hall discussion Monday at Forest Park Middle School in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Audience members in the front row listen to U.S. Sen. Edward Markey speak during his town hall discussion Monday at Forest Park Middle School in Springfield. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • U.S. Sen. Edward Markey speaks during his town hall discussion Monday at Forest Park Middle School in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno introduces U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, Monday at Forest Park Middle School in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Karen Lee, of Springfield, second from left, who is an organizer for Our Revolution Massachusetts, asks a question beside a group of her supporters during U.S. Sen. Edward Markey’s town hall discussion Monday at Forest Park Middle School in Springfield. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • U.S. Sen. Edward Markey speaks during his town hall discussion Monday at Forest Park Middle School in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • U.S. Sen. Edward Markey speaks during his town hall discussion Monday at Forest Park Middle School in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • U.S. Sen. Edward Markey speaks during his town hall Monday in Springfield. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



@LaurelDemkovich
Thursday, August 10, 2017

SPRINGFIELD — This is an important time in American history, and it is time to fight to protect the rights of all Americans, Democratic U.S. Sen. Edward Markey told audience members Monday night.

“This is our era,” Markey said. “This is our time to fight.”

About 200 people gathered in the Forest Park Middle School auditorium to hear Markey discuss health care, immigration, climate change and the opioid crisis. Before taking questions in a town hall format, Markey, on summer break along with the rest of Congress, spoke about two of these issues, health care and climate change.

Markey called the recent failure to pass the repeal of the Affordable Care Act a victory. He said the most important vote he’s ever had in the Senate was voting for the Affordable Care Act. The second most important was voting 10 days ago to make sure the ACA wasn’t repealed.

“We must now come together,” Markey said. “What we have to do is to continue to fight, to continue to stand up, to continue to ensure that the voices of ordinary American families are heard.”

He criticized President Donald Trump for his stance on climate change.

“Sometimes I think the president gets his climate change science from Trump University,” Markey said. “It’s as bogus as a degree from Trump University.”

He called the push for more environmental jobs, such as in the solar and wind industries, the greatest blue-collar job creation engine in generations. He told audience members that he would continue to fight in Washington to make sure Massachusetts can take advantage of this job creation.

Audience members from all over Massachusetts got a chance to ask questions.

The Rev. Talbert Swan II from the Springfield NAACP asked about the opioid crisis and what the country’s new stance means for those who were imprisoned because of the government’s war on drugs over the last 40 years.

“Now that we have this more compassionate stance, the question is what happens to all those individuals who are behind bars or whose lives have been ruined because of the war on drugs?” he asked.

Markey, noting that the opioid epidemic affects people of every race and every income level, said he continues to work for prison reform. The country should have responded differently years ago to the crack cocaine epidemic, he added.

“We have to treat it as a disease,” Markey said. “The country was blinded by the race of the people who were in this crack cocaine epidemic.”

Keri Rodrigues, “mom-in-chief” of Massachusetts Parents United, said 74 percent of the group’s members are Latino. She said there is an immigration crisis.

“They live in a crisis,” Rodrigues said. “They feel terrorized. Please think of us, think of these families.”

Markey said he will not allow a border wall to be built and he will work to make sure immigrants are protected.

“I agree with everything you said, 100 percent,” Markey said. “We’re going to have a mighty battle.”

Markey told a story about when he first decided to run for the Senate. He said he went to Lawrence to visit the house where his father grew up, a small apartment that seven people lived in.

When he knocked on the door, a Dominican family opened it.

“These accents were different but the aspirations were the same as the Markeys,” he said. “They want to work hard.”

Markey said looking forward, he wants to work with Trump and Republicans during the next three and a half years to remind them that there is another point of view.

“We’re just going to have to fight every single day,” Markey said. “We’re going to have to stand up every single day.”