Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders met in Miami, Florida for another debate sponsored by the Spanish-language station Univision and CNN. Sanders and Clinton fought to get support for their respective views on several issues, but it was on immigration - brought up early in the debate - that the candidates vigorously defended their positions and vowed not to deport undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Univision anchor Jorge Ramos started by asking Clinton if she would promise not to deport children and immigrants without a criminal record, pointing out to previous statements she had made regarding sending back Central American children who had recently crossed the U.S. border.
Clinton said there was a difference between having to comply with current asylum processes but pledged - when asked by Ramos - not to deport immigrant children or families already in the U.S. and advocated for changing asylum procedures. She also sought to distance herself from the Obama administration on deportations, saying she "does not have the same policy" as the administration.
Sanders also pledged not to deport children or immigrant families, saying at one point it was "immoral" to separate families. Both candidates fully support immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, but they sought to differentiate their records, with Sanders hitting Clinton on the issue of sending back Central American after crossing the border and Clinton hitting Sanders on his previous 2007 vote against an immigration bill.
Wednesday night’s debate was similar to a previous debate in Nevada, with bilingual moderators, a diverse audience, and topics geared towards a Latino audience. In Florida, where the Puerto Rican population now numbers over 1 million, and Cuban-Americans are still the dominant political class, both Clinton and Sanders were challenged on their views regarding Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Sanders and Clinton promised to help Puerto Rico restructure its enormous $70 billion dollar debt and reaffirmed their commitment to Puerto Ricans as citizens of the United States deserving of and equal opportunity to get back on their feet.
On Cuba, Clinton focused on normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba and urged greater respect for human rights by the Castro government, Sanders agreed with encouraging democratic reforms in Cuba and called on ending the embargo.
Sanders was questioned on former statements he had made praising the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and Fidel Castro. Pressed on whether or not he regretted his characterization of the Daniel Ortega and Fidel Castro governments, Sanders focused on his continued opposition to what he said was a U.S. history of regime change in Latin America.
Sanders and Clinton continued to spar on health care policy, jobs, and the influence of Wall Street on Washington D.C., with Clinton defending her ties to Wall Street and pushing for incremental change on health care. Sanders persisted in asking Clinton to release the transcripts of her paid speeches to corporate executives and argued for sweeping change towards a single payer health care system.
Many of the questions focused on the details of their policies, such as the interest rate on loans for education versus the costs of making higher public education tuition free for all.
On Donald Trump, the candidates refused to answer directly whether they thought Trump was "racist," instead strongly condemning his remarks on Mexico and Mexicans and Muslims.