Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders issued a promise, if either is elected U.S. president, to not deport undocumented immigrant children.

Clinton Makes a Promise

Clinton was pressed on her deportation policy during the Univision and Washington Post's March 9 debate, if she would follow the same deportation policies as President Barack Obama. Co-moderator Jorge Ramos, who made it known at the start of the debate that his daughter is a campaign staffer for Clinton, asked the former secretary of state if she can make the promise to not deport undocumented immigrant children "who are already here" in the U.S.

"I will not deport children. I would not deport children. I do not want to deport family members, either, Jorge. I want to, as I've said, prioritize who would be deported: violent criminals, people planning terrorist attacks, anybody who threatens us, that's a relatively small universe."

Clinton also promised not to deport undocumented immigrants, also already in the U.S., who have clean criminal records. Clinton added she wants adjustments to the current asylum process to provide immigrants, who have fled violence in their native country, their necessary resources and reiterated her stance to provide immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

The Impact of a Guatemalan Immigrant Mother

One of the memorable moments from Wednesday night's debate was the question posed by Guatemalan immigrant Lucia, a mother of five children, who spoke about her husband's deportation three years ago. Speaking in Spanish, Lucia asked Sanders and Clinton about their platforms to stop deportations and reuniting families.

Sanders said his immigration policy is to "unite families, not to divide families." Clinton said she will do everything she can to prevent further families from facing the same events as Lucia and her families.

Long before the debate, Clinton and Sanders have respectively denounced the Obama administration's deportation raids, which received national headlines on the weekend following New Year's Day.

Immigration Reform: 2007 vs. 2013

As expected Clinton and Sanders debated on the 2007 comprehensive immigration reform legislation (S. 1639), which the former New York senator voted in favor but the current Vermont senator opposed. Clinton said the 2007 bill was the best chance to pass comprehensive immigration reform, claiming it had Republican support even from then-President George W. Bush.

"Just think, imagine where we would be today is we had achieved comprehensive immigration reform nine years ago. Imagine how much more secure families would be in our country, no longer fearing the deportation of a loved one, no longer fearing that they would be found out," said Clinton, adding

Sanders defended his 2007 vote, stating Latino and immigrant rights groups opposed the bill, said S. 1639 had guest worker provisions that were similar to slavery. "

"They (immigrants) were cheated, they were abused, they were humiliated, and if they stood up for their rights, they would be thrown out of the country," said Sanders about the 2007 immigration bill, and noted he voted in favor of the 2013 Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744). Sanders said immigration reform is still needed and will use further executive actions if Congress fails to act.

Clinton also spoke in favor of issuing further immigration executive actions if congressional gridlock continues.

Sanders hit back at Clinton on her stance opposing driver's licenses for immigrants living in New York. As Latin Post reported, Clinton did oppose then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's effort to provide immigrants with driver's licenses. In a statement sent to Latin Post in October 2015, Clinton's campaign noted the environment in regards to the immigration debate has changed since 2007.

"The immigration landscape of 2015 is far different from the immigration landscape of 2007, so of course the policy responses are different," said the statement from Clinton's campaign last October. "In 2007, we didn't have an executive action that would focus our resources on deporting felons, not families, allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States. In the last eight years, states have increasingly been moving in this direction with positive results."

"Hillary supports those state efforts," her campaign added. "As she said in 2007, she believes the long-term solution is comprehensive immigration reform, but given Republican obstruction, we can no longer wait for that."

Clinton: Pro-Wall?

Clinton responded to her own statements made during a New Hampshire campaign stop last November where she said she voted numerous times for a wall between Mexico and the U.S. Clinton said her remarks were different compared to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Clinton said, where it was necessary, she supported "some fencing" with the addition of border patrol agents.


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