The first time that Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2007, she was Against Licenses for Illegal Immigrants (New York Times). In change from 2008: Clinton now supports driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Some political observers have opined that Clinton’s stance on this issue in her first run for president cost her the nomination. Clinton has now “evolved” on immigration reform, much the same way that Barack Obama “evolved” on the marriage equality issue.
It is also a politically calculated move to hold together the “Obama coalition” that allowed Obama to comfortably win two elections. The ever-growing Latino electorate is a major voting bloc of the “Obama coalition.”
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton kicked of her listening tour in Nevada at Rancho High School in Las Vegas. Clinton spoke for the first time about immigration reform at a school where 70 percent of the population is Hispanic. Transcript (excerpt):
It is also essential that we strengthen families and communities and that means that we have to finally and once and for all fix our immigration system—this is a family issue, its an economic issue too, but it is at heart a family issue. If we claim we are for family, then we have to pull together and resolve the outstanding issues around our broken immigration system.
The American people support comprehensive immigration reform not just because it’s the right thing to do—and it is—but because it will strengthen families, strengthen our economy, and strengthen our country. That’s why we can’t wait any longer, we can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship.
Now, 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. When they talk about “legal status,” that’s code for “second-class status.”
And we should never forget that this debate is about people who, and you’re going to meet some of them in a second, people who work hard, who love this country, who pay taxes to it and want nothing more than to build better lives for themselves and their children.
We’re talking about the young people here at this table. They’re DREAMers in much more than name. They are kids that any parent would be proud of. I don’t understand how anyone could look at these kids and think we should break up more families or turn away more hard workers with talent.
So I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for families across our country. I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put DREAMers—including many with us today—at risk of deportation.
And, if Congress refuses to act, as President I will do everything possible under the law to go even further. There are more people—like many parents of DREAMers and others with deep ties and contributions to our communities—who deserve a chance to stay. I’ll fight for them too.
The law currently allows for sympathetic cases to be reviewed, but right now most of these cases have no way to get a real hearing. Therefore we should put in place a simple, straightforward, and accessible way for parents of DREAMers and others with a history of service and contribution to their communities to make their case and be eligible for the same deferred action as their children.
But that’s just the beginning. There’s much more to do to expand and enhance protections for families and communities. To reform immigration enforcement and detention practices so they’re more humane, more targeted, and more effective. And to keep building the pressure and support for comprehensive reform.
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And so for me this is about what kind of people we all are and what kind of country we all have. I am absolutely convinced this is in our economic interest, in the interest of our values, and it’s even in the interest of our long-term security as a nation.
So you know where I stand and there can be no question about it because I will do everything I can as President and during this campaign to make this case.
Now I know there are people who disagree with me, and I want them to have a conversation with me.
A full video from Clinton’s roundtable event is available from C-SPAN by CLICKING HERE.
Dara Lind at Vox.com writes, Hillary just took a stunningly aggressive stance on immigration reform:
Hillary Clinton’s first campaign speech on immigration told activists exactly what they hoped they’d hear — and much better than they expected to hear — from the likely Democratic presidential nominee.
Clinton promised Tuesday that she would not only support President Obama’s executive actions to protect millions of unauthorized immigrants from deportation, but would expand them to allow more immigrants to apply for protection and work permits.
Clinton said she wanted Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a “full and equal” path to citizenship, but also stressed that she’ll take further executive action if Congress doesn’t pass a bill.
The executive actions President Obama proposed in 2014 are currently on hold because of a lawsuit over whether they’re constitutional, but many are confident that the administration will win the court battle and the programs will be allowed to go into effect.
Right now, young unauthorized immigrants who entered the US as children or young teens, and have high school degrees or are attending high school (otherwise known as DREAMers), are allowed to apply for relief from deportation, called deferred action, and a work permit. The Obama administration’s proposed executive actions from 2014 would allow older immigrants who met those criteria to get relief from deportation, as well as parents of US citizens and permanent residents who’ve been in the US for five years.
Clinton named one particular group whom she would also allow to apply for protections and work permits: parents of the DREAMers who currently have deferred action. (The Obama administration refused to take its executive actions that far last year, saying they didn’t think it would be within their legal authority.) But she also said she wanted to allow any unauthorized immigrant with “deep ties and contributions to communities” to come forward and apply for relief. Since a majority of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the US for a decade, that could cover a lot of people.
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[Immigration activists] worried that Clinton would just say she supported comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, without talking about executive action. They expected her to endorse the executive actions Obama had already taken. They hoped she’d say she wanted to protect more immigrants through executive action. But they certainly weren’t asking her to say, at the outset, exactly which immigrants she wanted to help.
Clinton had also said two things in 2014 that worried advocates: that Central American children who’d arrived in the US should be sent back, and that the answer to protecting unauthorized immigrants was to “elect more Democrats.”
Both of those were things Clinton clearly tried to address in her campaign speech. She called special attention to the thousands of recent immigrant families who’ve been put in immigration detention — a signal to activists that she understood the problems with taking a tough approach to child and family migrants. And she couldn’t have been more explicit in supporting executive action to protect immigrants if there aren’t enough Democrats in Congress to pass immigration reform.
Hillary Clinton is absolutely correct when she says that not one Republican candidate for president supports a pathway to citizenship. The modern day Tea-Publican Party has become the modern day version of the anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party of the 19th Century. They are the Mass Deportation Party.
No Tea-Publican candidate can win a GOP primary, dominated by the GOP crazy base, if he or she supports immigration reform. This is why Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have both abandoned their prior stances in support of immigration reform. They care more about appeasing the GOP crazy base than do about taking a principled and morally just stand.
Hillary Clinton has taken that principled and morally just stand, and I will give her credit for “evolving” on this issue.