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The focal point of the immigration discussion in the final presidential debate appears to have been Donald Trump’s reference to “bad hombres,” as the candidates once again delved very little into the subject’s details.
As Twitter users do, they quickly seized on the phrase and turned it into a couple of hashtags, #badhombres and #badhambres. Hombre in Spanish means man, but Trump's pronunciation made it sound like "hambres." The word for hunger in Spanish is hambre.
And the Clinton campaign seized on it as it had done during the vice presidential debate with #ThatMexicanThingAgain. The web address badhombres.org redirects to a donor page.
The reference came up when moderator Chris Wallace asked Clinton and Trump to defend their plans on immigration. Both reverted to familiar themes.
Trump went with the border wall, victims of crimes committed by people here illegally and the pledge that he would deport the “bad hombres.”
Clinton raised the issue of splitting families and blasted Trump’s mass deportation plan. She also vowed to work on immigration reform in her first 100 days, which was quickly picked up on social media.
But just short of 10 minutes into their discussion on immigration, the candidates pivoted to Russia and Vladimir Putin.
The scant attention the election-dominating topic got was noted by online audiences.
Although it’s a topic that has loomed large over this year’s election, the confounding complexities of the topic have not been hashed over to any great degree in the previous debates and weren't once again Wednesday night.
The candidates seemed on the verge of a more insightful discussion when Clinton explained the need to bring immigrants here illegally “out of the shadows” into the formal economy so they are not be exploited by employers who pay them lower wages and undermine American workers. That argument is one that the AFL-CIO often makes in support of immigration reform.
As Clinton was explaining a comment she made about dreaming of open borders in an energy speech, things began to crumble.
The “open borders” remark came to light when Wikileaks posted a transcript of a speech she'd made online. Clinton said that the transcript was obtained through espionage by Russians, a reference to Russian hacking of computer systems.
“That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders,” Trump said.
The subject of immigration came up once more when Trump’s non payment of taxes was being discussed. Clinton said it was appalling that immigrants here illegally are paying more taxes than “a billionaire,” referring to Trump.
But overall there was disappointment with how little was said on the issue.