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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

 

Clink-o de Mayo: Clinton throws down on immigration, private prisons

by Tom Sullivan

Hillary Clinton chose Cinco de Mayo to come out squarely in favor of immigration reform and against prison occupancy rules in an appearance at Rancho High School in Nevada yesterday. The Wall Street Journal called it "a full-throated embrace of much of the agenda of the immigration-rights movement":

LAS VEGAS—Hillary Clinton, bidding to maintain Democratic dominance among Hispanic voters, said Tuesday she would work to expand President Barack Obama’s executive actions protecting people in the U.S. illegally from deportation, and push for legislation including a path to citizenship.

She said GOP proposals for legal status, which some Republicans have embraced, fall short of what’s needed. “We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship,” she said. She said not a single Republican candidate has consistently supported that policy. “When they talk about ‘legal status,’ that is code for second-class status.”

It was a message aimed at solidifying support among a Latino community where a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows Clinton the "prohibitive favorite"among Latino voters. Her closest rival in the Republican field, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, trails her by 31 points. Clinton's message was also a shot at Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who have talked about legal status, but have backed away from calling for a path to citizenship.

Clinton discussed issues with deportation hearings and other hurdles facing undocumented immigrants:

Clinton said she believes that undocumented immigrants who are children, who are particularly vulnerable such as transgender individuals, or who generally are not criminals should not be detained. She also criticized the congressional mandate that a certain number of detention beds be maintained and the fact that private prison companies run many immigrant detention facilities.

"People go out and round up people in order to get paid on a per-bed basis," she said. "That just makes no sense at all to me. That's not the way we should be running any detention facility."

Politico called the speech a "smart move":

“It’s a debate Republican candidates don’t want because the most extremist elements of their base oppose moderation on the issue,” said Kica Matos, spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement. “And it’s a debate the money and strategy kings of the Republican Party don’t want, because their party is blocking comprehensive immigration reform that would keep families together.”

Liberal Democrats have been wary of Clinton, many progressives preferring Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Some "Draft Warren" organizers met with Warren recently to discuss policy, although Warren's office claims she was unaware of the connection. Warren's influence may be pulling Clinton to the left. In her talk yesterday, Clinton echoed Warren when she said, “our undocumented workers in New York pay more in taxes than some of our biggest corporations in New York.”

Stay tuned.