Here’s the transcript of the immigration questions from the Democratic candidates debate on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are several areas that will require clarification from the candidates – and we’ll have more on that later. And, there was no discussion about mass deportation or ending birthright citizenship or blocking executive actions:
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want to bring it over to Juan Carlos Lopez from CNN en Espanol. We’re obviously in Nevada. It’s had the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants of any state in the country as of last year. Juan Carlos?
LOPEZ: Gracias, Anderson. Senator Sanders, in 2013, you voted for immigration reform. But in 2007, when Democrats controlled Congress and the Bush White House was onboard, you voted against it. Why should Latino voters trust you now when you left them at the altar at the moment when reform was very close?
SANDERS: I didn’t leave anybody at the altar. I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they’re working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they’re thrown out of the country. I was not the only progressive to vote against that legislation for that reason. Tom Harkin, a very good friend of Hillary Clinton’s and mine, one of the leading labor advocates, also voted against that.
LOPEZ: Tom Harkin isn’t running for president. You are.
SANDERS: I know that. But point being is that progressives did vote against that for that reason. My view right now — and always has been — is that when you have 11 million undocumented people in this country, we need comprehensive immigration reform, we need a path toward citizenship, we need to take people out of the shadows.
O’MALLEY: And Juan Carlos — Juan Carlos…
LOPEZ: Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton, Governor O’Malley wants to open up Obamacare to millions of undocumented immigrants and their children, including almost 90,000 people right here in Nevada. Do you?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, I want to make sure every child gets health care. That’s why I helped to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and I want to support states that are expanding health care and including undocumented children and others.
I want to open up the opportunity for immigrants to be able to buy in to the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. I think to go beyond that, as I understand what Governor O’Malley has recommended, so that they would get the same subsidies.
I think that is — it raises so many issues. It would be very difficult to administer, it needs to be part of a comprehensive immigration reform, when we finally do get to it.
LOPEZ: Governor O’Malley?
O’MALLEY: Juan Carlos, I think what you’ve heard up here is some of the old thinking on immigration reform, and that’s why it’s gridlocked. We need to understand that our country is stronger in every generation by the arrival of new American immigrants. That is why I have put out a policy for comprehensive immigration reform, that is why I would go further than President Obama has on DACA, and DAPA.
I mean, we are a nation of immigrants, we are made stronger by immigrants. Do you think for a second that simply because somebody’s standing in a broken que on naturalization they’re not going to go to the hospital, and that care isn’t going to fall on to our insurance rates? I am for a generous, compassionate America that says we’re all in this together. We need comprehensive
COOPER: Senator Webb…
O’MALLEY: …immigration reform. It’ll make wages go up in America $250 for every year…
LOPEZ: Senator Webb, do you support the undocumented immigrants getting Obamacare?
WEBB: I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Let me start by saying my wife is an immigrant. She was a refugee, her family escaped from Vietnam on a boat– her entire extended family, after the communists took over, when hundreds of thousands of people were out there and thousands of them were dying. Went to two refugee camps, she never spoke English in her home, and she ended, as I said, graduating from Cornell Law School. That’s not only American dream, that’s a value that we have with a good immigration system in place. No country has — is a country without defining its borders. We need to resolve this issue. I actually introduced an amendment in the 2007 immigration bill…
LOPEZ: …Thank you, Senator.
WEBB: …Giving a pathway to citizenship to those people who had come here, and put down their roots, and met as a series of standards…
COOPER: …Thank you, Senator.
WEBB: …lost (ph) — I introduced that in 2007 — We need a comprehensive reform, and we need to be able to define our borders.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: I want to follow up because I think underneath Juan Carlos’ important questions, there is such a difference between everything you’re hearing here on this stage, and what we hear from the Republicans.
O’MALLEY: Here. Here.
CLINTON: Demonize hard-working immigrants who have insulted them. You know, I came to Las Vegas in, I think, May. Early may. Met with a group of DREAMers, I wish everybody in America could meet with this young people, to hear their stories, to know their incredible talent, their determination, and that’s why I would go further…
CLINTON: …than even the executive orders that President Obama has signed when I’m president.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, let me ask you. Two of your rivals from your left, Governor O’Malley, and Senator Sanders, want to provide instate college tuition to undocumented immigrants. Where do you stand on that?
CLINTON: My plan would support any state that takes that position, and would work with those states and encourage more states to do the same thing.
COOPER: So, on the record, you believe that undocumented immigrants should get instate college tuition.
CLINTON: If their states agree, then we want more states to do the same thing.
COOPER: Governor O’Malley?
O’MALLEY: Anderson, we actually did this in my state of Maryland. We passed…
O’MALLEY: We passed a state version of the DREAM Act…
O’MALLEY: …And a lot of the xenophobes, the immigrant haters like some that we’ve heard like, Donald Trump, that carnival barker in the Republican party…
O’MALLEY: Tried to mischaracterize it as free tuition for illegal immigrants. But, we took our case to the people when it was petitioned to referendum, and we won with 58 percent of the vote. The more our children learn, the more they will earn, and that’s true of children who have yet to be naturalized…
O’MALLEY: …but will become American citizens…