“She Sat Down with Real People who Told Real Stories and Showed the Human Side of the Immigration Debate”
Following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, reacting to Hillary Clinton’s Las Vegas roundtable on immigration.
“Wow. Hillary Clinton just bear-hugged immigrants and the immigration issue in a way that could shake up the entire 2016 race. She promised to fight for immigration reform with a path to citizenship, to defend and expand on executive actions if Republicans continue to block a permanent legislative solution and to revisit the Obama Administration’s controversial family detention practices.
“She sat down with real people who told real stories and showed the human side of the immigration debate. Republican candidates never actually take the time to sit down and listen to actual immigrants, much less build a national platform for them to voice their concerns. The discussion touched numerous issues—from asylum and detention reform to the unlawful presence bars and the need to reunite families separated by deportation. Clinton did not shy away from the issues, but rather embraced them and the people who face complex, serious problems with our current immigration system and are simply seeking a reasonable solution.
“These are exactly the kind of specific policy positions immigrants and their allies wanted to hear, and is likely to have a powerful effect on the enthusiasm of Latinos, Asian Americans and immigrant voters – the fastest growing groups of voters in this 50-50 political nation. Meanwhile, Republican candidates debate how quickly they’ll revoke President Obama’s executive actions that will protect some 5 million undocumented immigrants and how to make the U.S.-Mexico border more secure than the Berlin Wall before they solve the immigration challenge.
“Advocates were concerned about Hillary Clinton, and for good reason. She came of age politically when Rahm Emanuel and others were calling immigration reform the third rail of American politics, she seemed rusty and tone-deaf during her book tour and she has a reputation for being overly cautious on controversial issues. But tonight she threw down. She called immigration reform central to her campaign and took a series of positions that will make Republican heads explode and Republican candidates shudder.
“Here’s the most important political math. Latino voters break down, basically as follows: 50% strongly Democratic; 20% strongly Republican; 30 percent swing. In this election, a Republican nominee will need to win 45% of the Latino vote to compete in the five swing states where Latino votes will make the biggest difference – NV, NM, CO, FL, and VA (five states that George W Bush won twice, and then won twice by Barack Obama). With Hillary leaning in on immigration and insisting on citizenship, expanded protections for undocumented immigrants and changes to policies that detain families, transgendered immigrants, and others who pose no security risk, and with Republicans sputtering about ‘border security first’ at a time when levels of unauthorized immigration are below net zero, a forty year low, this early move could have a big impact on the general election outcome.
“Our community has long experience with promises made by politicians who then fail to deliver while in office. But we also have experience holding politicians accountable to their promises and ensuring they enact change. Secretary Clinton’s trip to Nevada today shows that she’s listening to our community’s concerns, and that’s a huge step forward today.”