Bernie Sanders Speaks at US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Says 'Open Borders' Hurt US Youth
Sen. Bernie Sanders became the third presidential candidate to hold a Q&A session at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) on Thursday.
The Vermont Democratic candidate, though in favor of immigration reform, warned that open borders and high levels of immigration could hurt U.S. youth.
Sen. Sanders participated in the Q&A session hosted by Javier Palomez, president and CEO of the USCHCC, and took many questions concerning immigration and immigration reform. Defending his views on immigration, the Vermont senator argued that though he favored reform of the current system, he also warned against allowing too many immigrants into the country in lieu of high unemployment numbers among U.S. minority youth.
"You’ve got to be careful about defining the word, ‘immigrants,’” Sen. Sanders said in response to a question about “the totally debunked notion” of immigrants taking Americans’ jobs.
“What they are talking about is completely opening up the border,” he further explained. “That was the question, should we have a completely open border, so that anybody can come into the United States of America. If that were to happen, which I strongly disagree with, there is no question in my mind that that [would] substantially lower wages in this country.
“When you have 36 percent of Hispanic kids in this country who can’t find jobs, and you bring a lot of unskilled workers into this country, what do you think happens to that 36 percent of kids who are today unemployed? Fifty-one percent of African-American kids? I don’t think there’s any presidential candidate, none, who thinks we should open up the borders," he added.
Sen. Sanders had explained his policies on health care coverage for all, free college tuition, and closing tax loopholes for large corporations, arguing these policies will help all Americans, including small business owners and minorities.
However, journalists present had also asked him about not voting for the 2007 immigration reform law to which the senator explained that he did not favor the bill’s emphasis on bringing low-wage workers into the country.
“What I want to see, and what is better about the recent bill, is a pathway toward citizenship, which is absolutely essential,” he added, referencing the 2013 bill he voted for.
He explained that is why Wall Street favors immigration reform that favors bringing workers. Instead, Sen. Sanders has worked to increase wages for workers and favors policies that would improve the lives of Americans of all backgrounds, including amendments to the 2013 immigration bill.
One of his amendments, SA.1283, allocated $1.5 billion to create a jobs fund for low-income youth in the country, which would include the minority young people he mentioned earlier.
He also introduced a bill to the Senate this year to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Called the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act, the bill was introduced in July 22 and has three co-sponsors.
Palomez also pressed the senator on what a Sanders administration would do for Latino business owners. Sen. Sanders explained he would invest in updating and fixing the nation’s infrastructure, which would be a boost to the many Latino workers and business in the construction area.
Sen. Sanders explained further what the country needs, aside from a leader who will fight for the downtrodden.
“It’s not just about electing Bernie Sanders to be president,” he said. “I can’t do anything, or very little, unless there is a movement of people behind me prepared to stand up to these very, very powerful people.”
Watch the full Q&A session:
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