Presidential races

Team Sanders hits Clinton over 2007 undocumented immigrant stance

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Bernie Sanders’s campaign dredged up Hillary Clinton’s 2007 opposition to New York granting driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, accusing her of an inconsistent record on advocating for immigrants.  

While Clinton has embraced favorable positions in the immigrant community during her 2016 campaign, the Sanders campaign argued she had already shown her true colors during the last election cycle. 
 
{mosads}”It’s easy now in 2016 to support DREAMers, it is easy to say, ‘Yes I support immigration reform,’ but leadership does not come from changing positions just for the sake of a political climate,” said Cesar Vargas, the Sanders campaign’s deputy director for Latino outreach, referring to individuals who meet the critieria of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.
 
“The reality is Secretary Clinton, as my U.S. senator and as a candidate who ran for president, she has demonstrated she not only does not understand the urgency of immigrant families and what they go through, she’s not a champion when we need a leader.”
 
Bill Valazquez, the campaign’s Latino outreach director, added before the call officially commenced that Clinton’s record on immigrant issues hasn’t been thoroughly scrutinized.  
 
“The narrative out there is that Hillary Clinton has been perfect on immigration rights her whole career and that Bernie Sanders has no record or a bad record. That’s a narrative that needs to be corrected,” he said.
 
“Hillary Clinton, using a favor and for political purposes stopped that very important effort. That’s what we are trying to point out today so people don’t misinterpret her history.”
 
The push comes just one week before the pivotal New York primary and as Clinton and Sanders both push to make inroads with the minority communities in the state. Clinton, who represented the state in the Senate, has the upper hand at the polls, but Sanders is making a pitch partly based on his birth in the state. Clinton has historically done better with Hispanic voters, but a new poll found them effectively tied with Hispanic Democrats nationally. 
 
Clinton has been dogged by the issue since her 2008 campaign, when she received criticism for waffling on New York’s push to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Clinton eventually came out against the policy at a debate.
 
Then-Gov. Elliot Spitzer revealed on a podcast last year hosted by former Barack Obama aide David Axelrod that Clinton staffers had wanted him to abandon his push, which he ultimately did. 
  
During this election, Clinton has expressed support for the policy at the state level but has also repeatedly touted the need for comprehensive immigration reform that would go further. She has also worked to cast Sanders as inconsistent on the issue by noting that he voted against the 2007 immigration reform bill.
 
In response to the call, Clinton supporter Rep. Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.) attacked Sanders by highlighting that vote and arguing that he also voted to protect border militia groups and for indefinite immigration detention. 
 
“Hillary Clinton has been a steadfast supporter of our community and our issues. Senator Sanders has not only been absent from our community, but when it came to making several decisions on key policy issues that impact the Latino community, he voted the wrong way,” she said in a statement released by the campaign. 
 
“When New Yorkers make their decision this coming Tuesday on who is the person that is best equipped to lead our country, they must remember that only one person in this race has consistently stood by immigrant and Latino families – and that’s Hillary Clinton.”
 
The Clinton campaign on Tuesday released its second Spanish language ad in New York touting Clinton for “standing up for immigrants,” including registering Latinos to vote, a press release says.

It’s not the first time Sanders has hit her on the issue — he brought it up during a March debate and argued that he, in contrast, worked with Vermont officials to help the state pass a law in 2013 granting undocumented immigrants licenses.  

When pressed for specifics, Sanders’s aides described his work on that issue as “behind the scenes.”
 
“We don’t have specific details but the fact is, the senator has never been an impediment for any type of these efforts. As mayor, as a member of Congress, as a senator, he had a very influential position to oppose any type of efforts, he hasn’t,” Vargas said. 
 
“He’s been consistent on this issue to make sure that all immigrants can have the opportunity for a broader relief.”
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