As a boy growing up on the south side of Tucson, Raúl Grijalva was constantly inside the school library reading novels, magazines and newspapers.
On Tuesday, Congressman Grijalva, D-Arizona, stood outside El Presidio Library with a demand to President Donald Trump — put back the $187 million in federal funding to libraries that his proposed budget had eliminated.
"It’s time we recognize this for what it is — an assault on the poor, plain and simple. Republicans have a choice — they can be complicit in Trump’s attack, or they can join us in safeguarding libraries as a vital resource to communities all across this country," Grijalva said.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Grijalva and other supporters demanded the restoration of the funding for libraries. By comparison, President Trump is seeking a $54 billion increase in defense spending.
With the roar of F-16s flying over the library sometimes silencing the news conference, Grijalva briefly mused about the Trump administration's priorities. "If you live on the south side you get used to that," Grijalva quipped about the planes, but also noting an increase sought by Trump for defense spending.
Grijalva said he already had 150 members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — that support the full funding of federal programs that support libraries.
Anna Sanchez, branch manager of El Pueblo Library, said Tucson libraries are more than just books.
"The public library is America's great equalizer, providing everyone the same access to information and opportunities for success," Sanchez said.