Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton pledged Tuesday to take further executive actions if Congress fails to pass comprehensive immigration reform and accused Republicans of advocating to give undocumented workers “second class status.”
“If Congress refuses to act, as president, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further,” Clinton said during a campaign stop in Las Vegas.
Clinton said it is time for "a path to full and equal citizenship" and dismissed competing proposals that would give undocumented immigrants a limited time-frame to remain in the country legally.
And Clinton said that if she is elected president she would expand DACA provisions to include parents who had deep roots in the United States.
The former secretary of state made the remarks after meeting with youths at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, which is 70 percent Hispanic. The roundtable included one student from Rancho HS, Betsaida Frausto, a junior who has a 4.8 grade point average, is taking three Advanced Placement classes, and wants to go to Yale to become a doctor.
She also heard heartwarming stories from the students, including several who come from "mixed" families — where one parent and/or a sibling are legal and the rest of the family are not and are faced with deportation. Clinton told them it is foolish to talk about deporting 11 million people, saying we are a nation of immigrants and we have to solve this issue.
"I don't understand how anyone can look at these young people and think we should break up more families or turn away more hard workers with talent to help us build the kind of country we all want to see," Clinton said. "So I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for your families across our country.”
President Barack Obama took executive actions last year that would give temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. The orders, which are currently being challenged in court, resulted in a political showdown with Congressional Republicans who said the president had overstepped his Constitutional authority.
While the orders led to contentious showdowns in Washington that threatened to shut down the Department of Homeland Security and delayed the confirmation of Obama’s attorney general nominee this year, polling shows the rest of the country largely approves the orders. An MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll released last month found 57 percent of Americans and 78 percent of Latinos approved what the president did.
How to deal with the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants has already proved to be a key issue in the early stages of the 2016 campaign. Many in the Republican party have slammed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as “amnesty” that threatens American workers and ignores the law.
“Today not a single Republican candidate either announced or potential is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship, not one,” Clinton said at Rancho High School. “When they talk about legal status, that is code for second class status."