Subscribe

Hillary Clinton vows to push for immigration overhaul in visit to Nevada (+video)

Hillary Clinton's immigration plan includes creating a path to "full and equal citizenship," a proposal Republican presidential candidates have deeply opposed.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that any immigration overhaul must include a path to "full and equal citizenship," drawing a sharp contrast with Republicans who have promoted providing a legal status or blocked efforts in Congress to address the nation's immigration system.

"This is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side. Make no mistake, today not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one," Ms. Clinton said, adding, "When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status."

Clinton's remarks during her first campaign stop in Nevada underscored Democrats' efforts to box-in Republican presidential candidates who have opposed a comprehensive bill including a pathway to citizenship. Congressional Republicans have said the changes must be made incrementally, beginning with stronger border security.

The issue of immigration resonates with many Hispanic Americans, who backed President Obama by wide margins over Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 and helped the president's re-election campaign capture several hard-fought swing states, including Florida, Colorado, and Nevada.

Clinton's pitch to Latino voters came as two of her potential Republican rivals, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have courted Hispanics and talked about ways to overhaul the immigration system while opposing President Obama's executive actions last year to shield millions of immigrants from deportation.

Obama's executive actions loom large in the immigration debate. The orders included the expansion of a program protecting young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the US illegally as children. Another provision extended deportation protections to parents of US citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for several years.

Twenty-six states, including Nevada, have sued to block the plan, and a New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals panel heard arguments on the challenges last month. A ruling is pending.

Clinton, the leading Democrat in the presidential race, said she supported Obama's executive actions and said she would "defend" them against Republican opposition while seeking ways to expand them if elected president. Her message was aimed at so-called Dreamers, young people who have been protected from deportation by Obama's executive actions.

"I don't understand how anyone can look at these young people and think that we should break up more families or turn away young people with talent," she said. "So I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship."

Clinton also said she was worried about the use of family detention centers to hold women and children caught up in the immigration system, which activists have said is inhumane.

Her framing of the immigration debate has been closely watched by Latinos as Obama has struggled to pass reform legislation through Congress. And her remarks were received enthusiastically by immigration advocates.

"She called immigration reform central to her campaign and took a series of positions that will make Republican heads explode and Republican candidates shudder," said Frank Sharry, the founder and executive director of America's Voice, an immigration advocacy group.

Clinton has been tripped up by immigration policy before. During the 2008 primaries, she initially vacillated on and then opposed allowing immigrants living in the US illegally to obtain driver's licenses. Her campaign said last month she now supports state policies that allow driver's licenses under those circumstances. Last fall, some young Hispanics heckled her at a few campaign events, urging her to pressure Obama to issue the executive orders.

Preparing for a debate over immigration, Republicans have sought to portray Clinton as opportunistic on the issue.

"Obviously she's pretty good at pandering and flipping and flopping and doing and saying anything she needs to say," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said during an event with Hispanic Republicans in Denver.

Seated in the library at Rancho High School, which has a predominantly Hispanic student body, Clinton heard from several young immigrants, most of whom came to the US as children and received legal status under Obama's executive action. Many said they were worried about their families and work opportunities.

Betsaida Frausto, the top-ranked student in her junior class at Rancho, said she hoped to attend Yale University and study for a medical degree. But she said she worries that her uncertain status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would prevent her from working after graduating.

Juan Salazar, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who crossed the border at age 7, said he struggled to find work before starting a pool cleaning company with his father after receiving work papers through the executive actions. He said he fears that his father, who remains undocumented, could end up being deported.

The events marked Clinton's first campaign appearances in Nevada, which holds an early contest on the Democratic primary calendar and is expected to be a general election battleground with Republicans. Clinton won the 2008 Democratic caucuses there, but Obama came away with a slight edge in the number of delegates because of his strength in rural areas.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK