Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders barely mentioned immigration in Thursday’s Democratic presidential primary debate. The duo brushed aside the red hot topic that vaulted Donald Trump to the top of the polls, to discuss campaign finance reform and income inequality.
“So there are three big lifts that you’ve talked about: immigration, gun reform, climate change,” MSNBC moderator Chuck Todd said to Clinton in the only immigration-related question of the debate. “What do you do first? Because you know the first one is the one you have the best shot at getting done.”
“I don’t accept that premise, Chuck,” Clinton responded. “I think that we’ve got so much business we have to do. We’ve talked a lot tonight about what we’re against. We’re against income inequality. We’re against the abuses of powerful interests. We’re against a lot of things. I’m for a lot of things.”
Clinton went on to list things she supports: more solar panels, solidifying Obamacare, paid family leave, early childhood education, and “more for small businesses.” Clinton refused to acknowledge any kind of limit on her ability to accomplish all of these plans or a need to prioritize some at the expense of others.
Todd then turned to Sanders, pressing him to actually answer the immigration question. “All right, but Senator Sanders, you’ve still got to do something first,” he said. “As you know, history said — shows what you pick first is your best shot at getting, and how you prioritize things. Immigration reform, for instance, fell by the wayside in [Obama’s] first term because of this.”
“I am absolutely supportive of comprehensive immigration reform and a path towards citizenship for 11 million people today who are living in the shadows, all right?” Sanders replied, before moving on to what he considers the two most important topics — campaign finance and criminal justice reform.
“We got to do that,” he said. “But you miss — when you looked at the issues, you missed two of the most important. And that is you’re not going to accomplish what has to be done for working families and the middle class unless there is campaign finance reform.”
Neither Clinton nor Sanders made any connection between the angst of working class Americans and their push for what amounts to an open border policy. A September Pew Poll found one in two Americans want immigration levels to be reduced, and think immigrants make crime and the economy worse.
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