Hillary Clinton has drawn a line in the sand on yet another of the most important issues facing the American people, this time taking on immigration reform at a round table in Nevada. She disparaged the entire Republican field for their determination to make illegal immigrants “second class citizens” and vowed that if she was elected, she would do whatever in her power to protect the illegal parents of American citizens and to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
“The American people support comprehensive immigration reform, not just because it is the right thing to do, and it is, but because they know it strengthens families, strengthens our economy, and our country. That is why we can’t wait any longer, we can’t wait for a “path” to equal citizenship. This is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side. Make no mistake. Not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly supporting a path to citizenship, not one. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status.”
The issue of what America should do about the some eleven million illegal immigrants working and living in our borders has dogged politics for years, but no progress ever seems to be made. President Obama has made some impressive steps with the DREAM Act, but has been perpetually stonewalled by a Republican house and constitutionality lawsuits from xenophobes on the right-wing. President Obama also spoke a few words tonight, expressing discontent at all the obstruction he’s faced, but promising that “progress isn’t always in a straight line”.
The Republican presidential candidates have made cursory efforts to court the Latino vote but refuse to make any kind of substantial action to improve their lives and protect their families from deportation. It’s an even more appalling abandonment when you consider that three of the Republican hopefuls are born from immigrant parents- Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Bobby Jindal. The hypocrisy of hearing Ted Cruz speak glowingly of his father’s successes after having fought with Castro and arrived in America speaking no English, and then turn around and file amendments to ban paths to citizenship is so morally repugnant it boggles the mind.
America has always been a nation of immigrants. To this day, people from all over the world risk life and limb, fleeing violence and oppression, hoping for a better life and the freedoms that we hold so dear. While we shouldn’t just open the gates, we owe it to our forefathers to treat our immigrant population with respect and as equals. The Republican agenda these days seems to be focused on denying equality and discriminating against demographics that don’t fit their Anglo-Saxon Christian vision of the world- be they African-Americans, Muslims, gays, or Latinos. It’s up to strong progressives like Hillary Clinton to lead the charge for the freedom and equality that our nation stands for.
Her whole speech at the Rancho Highschool in Nevada can be found here.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.