LOS ANGELES – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday spoke at a town hall meeting on immigration reform, a key issue in California where Democratic Party voters go to the polls in Tuesday’s hotly contested presidential primary contest.
Meanwhile, in a prepared statement, Sanders contrasted his record in favor of comprehensive immigration reform to Clinton’s support for a 2007 Senate bill. She supported and he opposed the measure which was criticized by one of the country’s foremost Latino organizations, by organized labor and by a leading human rights organization.
“I voted against this bill because the League of United Latin American Citizens, the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the United States, said that it could not ‘support a bill that will separate families and lead to the exploitation of immigrant workers,’” Sanders said.
”I voted against this bill because the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the massive expansion of guest worker programs included in the legislation were akin to slavery allowing employers to exploit workers, cheat them out of wages, deny them medical treatment for on-the-job injuries, force them to live in squalid conditions and compel them to mortgage their futures to obtain low wage, temporary jobs.”
“I voted against this bill because the AFL-CIO, the largest trade union in America representing over 12 million workers, said that it was ‘far from the kind of comprehensive immigration reform that would improve the status quo for either U.S.-born or immigrant workers or their families’ and was ‘likely to make matters much worse,’” the Vermont senator said.
Sanders noted other areas of disagreement with Clinton on immigration issues.
He opposes deportation of children who fled to the United States from violence in Central America. She thinks the deportations will “send a message.” “Instead, we need to welcome these children into our country and do everything we can to help them get their lives back together,” Sanders said.
He wants to shut down private prisons used to jail those awaiting deportation. She took campaign cash from private prison lobbyists.
They also split on whether to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses. She fought and helped block passage of a proposal in New York. He supported a similar effort in Vermont which became law in 2013.
“I am proud that I have the strongest immigration reform plan of any candidate running for president. I am proud that my plan was endorsed by The New York Times. If I am elected president, I will do everything I can to provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans living in this country. And that includes taking executive action within the first 100 days I am in office.”
Watch the meeting: