Town hall participant asks Trump immigration question her late mother wanted to ask

ABC News

By MEG CUNNINGHAM, ABC News

(PHILADELPHIA) -- Flor Cruceta, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, recently went through the process of becoming a United States citizen with her mother in order to vote in this year's general election. The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, resident participated in ABC News' town hall event, "The President and the People," a 20/20 special, where voters from around Pennsylvania asked President Donald Trump questions about his presidency.

Cruceta took the opportunity to ask a question on behalf of her mother, who died only 10 days after becoming a U.S. citizen, and said it was her dream to be able to vote in a U.S. election.

"She raised that question," Cruceta said of her mother. "Why would he keep more people like me [and] her [from] becoming a citizen? Because she became a citizen last month ... and she didn't have a chance to vote."

Cruceta's family came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2006. Her mother worked at a meatpacking plant and "worked there for many years," she said. "If she got sick she never went to the doctor, she didn't want to stop working."

Cruceta began her question to Trump by describing her mother, then she began to cry.

"That's all right -- just take your time," Trump responded.

"She had breast cancer but it made metastasis on her brain, bone and lungs," Cruceta told the president about her mother. "She passed on the 19th. One of her biggest dreams was to become a citizen to vote. And she did [become a citizen], ten days before she died. And I did it, too. She pushed me so hard to do it, and I did it this past 28th."

"I'm here because of her," Cruceta said. "She was supposed to be here and ask you and thank you for this -- if they should take -- during this epidemic, you made people closer. We lost our jobs but we learned how to love our family. So I'm saying that from her."

"Very nice," Trump replied.

Cruceta then asked the president a question from her mom.

"Her question for you was -- because she wrote this question: What will you do for our immigration system? What will you change to make more people, like me and like her, become citizens and vote?" she said.

"It’s a very sad story, but we want people to come into our country," Trump told her. "We want them to come in -- a lot of people but we want them to come in through a legal system. Through a system that -- they love our country. They work to come into our country."

The president also told her that his administration is taking care of the coronavirus pandemic, apparently misunderstanding the cause of Cruceta's mother's death.

"We’ll have it taken care of," he said of the COVID-19 pandemic. "It’s going to get taken care of. The vaccines are going to make a big difference."

Afterward, Cruceta said she was thankful for the opportunity to ask the president a question and to represent her community.

"Mostly what I want to take in mind is, these people who are immigrants -- how are they going to help us?" Cruceta said. "How are they going to help more people to get their family here? Because everybody -- this is like a country, a home for anyone. That's the main theme for us, for the Spanish and Latin people right now."

"It was a great opportunity to be open about what we think and what we want to hear about him," Cruceta added.

ABC News offered to host a similar town hall with Biden, but the two parties were not able to find a mutually agreeable date.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.