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Clinton, Sanders Spar Over Immigration In U.S. Presidential Debate

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Clinton, Sanders Spar Over Immigration In U.S. Presidential Debate

Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton shake hands before the start of the Univision News and Washington Post Democratic U.S. presidential candidates debate in Kendall

By James Oliphant and Luciana Lopez

MIAMI (Reuters) – Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over who was more committed to immigration reform at a presidential debate on Wednesday night, but both promised they would not deport undocumented immigrants without criminal records.

Debating in Miami a few days before Florida’s crucial primary election, Clinton and Sanders took turns thrashing Republican front-runner Donald Trump for his vow to round up and kick out millions of undocumented immigrants.

Moderators at the debate, which was aired by the Spanish-language network Univision and CNN, pressed both candidates on whether they would deport children of undocumented immigrants. Progressive activists have heavily criticized President Barack Obama’s administration for a policy of deporting such children.

One of the evening’s most dramatic moments came when a Guatemalan immigrant in the audience at Miami-Dade College asked a question in Spanish of both candidates, noting that her husband had been deported, leaving her and her five children behind.

“The essence of what we are trying to do is to unite families, not to divide families,” responded Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.

The issue of deportation, and particularly separation of families, has been a major question among communities of undocumented immigrants, with recent deportations ramping up those fears.

“I will do everything I can to prevent other families from facing what you are facing,” Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of State, told the woman “and I will absolutely protect your children, yourself and try to bring your family back together.”

Clinton also blasted Sanders for voting against a 2007 bipartisan immigration reform package. Sanders has said he voted against the bill because of a provision for guest workers, a program he again called “akin to slavery.”

Sanders also used the immigration issue to blast Trump, who has called for deporting the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

“Look, in this country immigration reform is a very hot debate. I would hope very much that as we have that debate we do not, as Donald Trump and others have done, resort to racism and xenophobia and bigotry,” Sanders said.

“His idea of suddenly one day or maybe a night rounding up 11 million people and taking them outside of this country is a vulgar, absurd idea that I would hope very few people in America support.”


(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)



  1. Dominick Vila March 10, 2016

    The fact that “illegal” immigration should be unacceptable to us should not be questioned. The real problem, and what needs to be addressed, is the need to reform our current immigration laws to reflect our semi-skilled and unskilled labor needs, to ensure migrants can enter the USA legally. People are not risking their lives or being apprehended and deported because they enjoy jumping fences, crawling through tunnels, or being abused or murdered by “coyotes” or self appointed vigilantes, because they like it. They do it because our laws have no provisions to allow the legal entry of people like them because they are desperate, and because they know that there are plenty of potential employers in the USA eagerly awaiting their arrival.
    Modify our existing laws, and fine those who hire illegal immigrants, and the illegal immigration problem will come to a screeching halt. In the interim, let’s not emulate the Third Reich, South Africa in the apartheid era, or the Soviet Union. We are better than that.

    1. nana4gj March 10, 2016

      I believe you said it better than I.

  2. Eleanore Whitaker March 10, 2016

    Here in NJ, everyone knows that it is Big Business who is responsible for hiring so many illegals over the last nearly 2 decades. Why? Think about why ANY business who can get the cheapest possible labor wouldn’t ignore E-Verify, which here in NJ, these businesses do all the time. They simply refuse to abide by the law.

    But, employees born and bred in the US are having to deal with one more issue other than loss of jobs to illegals…the insularism of non-English speaking illegals who also refuse to learn English. Think about the gravity of that. It means:
    A. Taxpayers must bear the burden of additional costs for non-English speakers so they can read in THEIR, not OUR national language and by the way, the language used most often in international trade and online.

    B. Employees are being forced to learn Spanish because here in NJ, Hispanic illegals are hired by Hispanic recruiters for warehousing jobs. This is a game where these recruiters turn over those they hire and are on their recruitment payrolls…so the big businesses don’t have to use E-Verify or pay ANY employee taxes..but…neiter do the Hispanic recruiters who are making big bucks by hiring and firing within a 90-day period to jack their recruiting commissions.

    C. There is grave danger when non-Enlish speaking employees are hired on only as temps for 90 days in workplaces where there is potential danger in the performance of regular work duties. These people are expoited because they have no idea what OSHA is or what a Dept. of Labor law is.

    D. The ripple effect is that any English speaking employee is forced to communicate in a language they were not born and raised with. Bad communication equals more lack of worker safety in the workplace.

    If there is any blame for any of the illegals, it is with businesses who knew all along what hiring illegals meant: Reducing American worker salaries to increase CEO salaries and perks. Plantation mentality…As close to free slave labor as it can get.

    1. tomtype March 16, 2016

      Most immigrants, legal or illegal want to and try to learn English. But there must be classes provided, which does cost money.
      When an employee is hired, certain paperwork must be completed. That includes the I-9, which is proof that the person can legally work. That must be kept by the employer of record, either the temp agency or the work site. And when wages are paid there must also be taxes withheld and forwarded. And all those records create a trail. If the company pays a temp agency, the total, an agency fee, the wages, and overhead costs, then that is the start of a trail. The temp agency needs to show where they paid the workers, the unemployment, and the workers comp, and what part amounts to a fee to them. And it all better balance, and the agency or the empolyer needs cashed checks and receipts. Its all part of the automatically generated paperwork and paper trail that any modern government imposes. And they also then track who files the income tax, too. (Remember that is how they got Al Capone. It is nearly fool proof).

  3. nana4gj March 10, 2016

    I am unclear with the term “deport” children. If the questions referred to children who show up to the border unaccompanied by an adult, held in a center to determine if they have a parent or responsible person, who may be turned back and flown home, that is not “deportation”. If it refers to children already here with illegal parents, that’s different.

    Is the deportation of illegals the current law? Why would Obama be deporting large numbers of illegal entrants if not to enforce an existing law? I’m sure he gets no pleasure in doing so,

    I, too, do not support encouraging other countries to send minor children unaccompanied by a parent to our border. However, there should be a process in case of dire need, such as an application beforehand; proof of sponsorship by a family member, church group, or someone, who will take responsibility or custody of the child on arrival; and guarantee they will be sent in a safe way.

    I strongly believe families already here, working, going to school, obeying all other laws, should not be split up and that, in such cases, one or both parents should be given paths to citizenship, with some designated temporary status until then. It is burdensome on the state, too, when there is a parent missing from the home.

    There is a way to manage this problem in a safe, economical, legal, and humane way. It just requires commitment to do so on the part of legislatures. It would be their part in making that border more secure. Instead of using the problem as a wedge issue for politics. And, it can create jobs.

    1. A_Real_Einstein March 10, 2016

      As a parent I can only imagine how excruatating it must be to send your innocent vulnerable child 1,000 miles away on an unsafe journey to probably never see that young beautiful child again. They can only be doing this to save that child’s life. What a sacrifice. To send those children back is awful and potentially deadly.

      1. nana4gj March 10, 2016

        That is why we must own the situations you describe that is the reason a parent would risk a child’s safety and life in order to provide safety and preserve the life of the child, and develop a humane plan for these kinds of situations. It would be imperative for there to be a way they can apply for this child’s entry; with church groups volunteering to assume responsibility/custody of the child after clearance at the border, or a designated family member; and then follow up to monitor the well being of the child for a determined period of time. I should think a country such as ours has been could manage something like that.

  4. FT66 March 10, 2016

    The problem lies on republicans thinking allowing latinos to stay in the country or coming in is all about them (latinos) voting for Dems. The question they (republicans) don’t ask themselves is: “what can we do so that latinos come to our side and vote for us?”

    1. tomtype March 16, 2016

      That is what the national Republicans were working on. In case you didn’t notice, 3 of the Rep. candidates had strong ties to Hispanics. But Trump took care of that for them. This has been an idea and policy since Reagan. Another one of the reasons the Republican leadership hates/distrusts Trump and his destruction of the Reagan coalition.

  5. Michael Hansen March 10, 2016

    I do hope everyone realizes that Republican Independents are the votes that got Berney his win in Michigan and will cause much disparity throughout all the remaining states that hold a primary. They want him to be their candidate because he can be beaten by just about any of the opposing Republicans. Dumb they are not but as close to illegal is what they stand for. No one should be allowed to vote in a primary unless they are party specific. I am an independent and know this process to be true especially in this election cycle.

    1. tomtype March 16, 2016

      In Michigan they are party specific, but you declare at the time of the election. And all it means is you will get their literature. But you can walk into the polling station and decide whether you want the Democratic or Republican slate.

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