weather icon Clear

Kamala Harris talks debt relief, justice reform in North Las Vegas

Updated August 4, 2019 - 7:48 pm

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris spent Sunday afternoon speaking with Las Vegas Valley members of nine historically black fraternities and sororities, known as the Divine Nine, about college debt relief and criminal justice reform.

The California Democrat is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Harris addressed the 200 attendees at the Pearson Community Center in North Las Vegas as “a room full of leaders,” and emphasized the necessity of political engagement to “lift people up.”

Harris briefly mentioned the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, California, as indicators of the need to “break barriers” to enact reform.

“This is a moment in time when we must speak to our better selves,” Harris said. “To those voices that we know guided each one of us to make the commitments that we have made to our God, to our families, to our communities, to our friends, our sisters and brothers, and to our country.”

Harris then took questions from the audience, the first of which addressed the student debt crisis. She said she plans to invest federal money in historically black colleges and universities, particularly in STEM fields, to enhance opportunities for students of color.

Harris touched on many economic challenges that may lead to student debt — which she said people of color face disproportionately — namely the costs of homeownership. Her proposal includes a $100 billion bill to assist with the closing costs and down payments of homes, specifically in poor communities.

Owning a home can provide families additional resources to pay for their college education, Harris said, instead of taking out private loans from “predatory lenders.”

“I know how to deal with those predators,” Harris said of her time as a prosecutor. “I’ve put a for-profit college out of business for preying on our students. There are so many predators who are making money off our students and their desire to do what? Get an education.”

When asked about criminal justice reform, Harris cited reforms she made in her time as California’s attorney general, including requiring officers to wear body cameras and introducing racial bias training among law enforcement, as evidence of her intended reforms on a federal level.

She added that she plans to reinforce the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which can prosecute matters of racial bias in law enforcement.

Valerie Lucas, a member of Harris’ sorority, said she has not decided on a candidate to support. But, she added, Harris’ involvement with the Divine Nine is important to her, as are Harris’ plans to invest in historically black colleges.

Michael Blow, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, is also undecided, but said he has a daughter in college and appreciated Harris’ proposals on student debt relief.

“She’s certainly a very impressive candidate, and there’s no doubt she’s passionate about her candidacy,” Blow said. “But I want to hear from everyone.”

Contact Amanda Bradford at abradford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279. Follow @amandabrad_uc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Court says US can reject asylum along parts of Mexico border

A federal appeals court’s ruling will allow the White House to begin rejecting asylum at some parts of the U.S.-Mexico border for migrants who arrived after transiting through a third country.

Greenland advises Trump it’s not for sale

“We see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer,” the government said. “Of course, Greenland is not for sale.”

Trump ties US economic success to winning 2nd term

President Donald Trump sought to reassure his supporters about the state of the U.S. economy in New Hampshire, a state that he hopes to capture in 2020, that their financial security depends on his reelection.