Hillary Clinton on Immigration
Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)
Clinton said she sympathized with Spitzer, then pivoted to stress the need for comprehensive immigration reform. But when Dodd declared his opposition to the plan, Clinton jumped back in: "I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Gov. Spitzer is trying to do it."
"Wait a minute!" interjected Dodd. "You said yes, you thought it made sense to do it." The moderator asked Clinton to clarify her position: Did she support Spitzer's plan or not?
Clinton said, "What is the governor supposed to do? He is dealing with a serious problem. We have failed and George Bush has failed. Do I think this is the right thing for any governor to do? No. But do I understand the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this? He's making an honest effort to do it."
Edwards wouldn't let go. "Unless I missed something, Sen. Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes," he noted, "and I think this is a real issue for the country."
"I was confused on Senator Clinton's answer," Obama said with a smirk. "I can't tell whether she was for it or against it." Clinton exited the stage both bloodied and bowed.
The next day, Clinton's people made an even bigger mess. A statement was issued that simply reformulated her muddled position from the night before. Then her press shop clarified the clarification, saying Clinton backed "the basic concept" of giving driver's licenses to illegals absent immigration reform.
The moderator asked the others onstage whether anyone opposed the idea. Clinton reentered the conversation. "Well, I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Gov. Spitzer is trying."
A: It’s important for as many Americans as possible to do what I have never been able to do, and that is learn another language and try to be bilingual because that connects us to the rest of the world. It is important that English remain our common unifying language because that brings our country together in a way that we have seen generations of immigrants coming to our shores be able to be part of the American experience and pursue the American dream. I have been adamantly against the efforts by some to make English the official language. That I do not believe is appropriate, and I have voted against it and spoken against it. I represent New York. We have 170 languages in NYC alone. I do not think we should be, in any way, discriminating against people who do not speak English, who use facilities like hospitals or have to go to court to enforce their rights. But English does remain an important part of the American experience.
A: I would consider that, except in egregious situations where it would be appropriate to take the actions you’re referring to. But when we see what’s been happening, with babies being left with no one to take care of them, children coming home from school, no responsible adult left, that is not the America that I know. That is against American values. It is a stark admission of failure by the federal government. I signed onto the first comprehensive bill back in 2004. I’ve been advocating for it: tougher, more secure borders, but let’s do it the right way, cracking down on employers, who exploit undocumented workers and drive down wages for everyone else.
A: Both Obama and I voted for that as part of the immigration debate. There is a smart way to protect our borders, and there is a dumb way to protect our borders. What I learned is that the University of Texas at Brownsville would have part of its campus cut off. This is the kind of absurdity that we’re getting from this administration. I’ve been fighting with them about the northern border. Their imposition of passports and other kinds of burdens are separating people from families, interfering with business and commerce, the movement of goods and people. So what I’ve said is that I would say, wait a minute, we need to review this. There may be places where a physical barrier is appropriate. When both of us voted for this, we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense, it would be considered.
A: There’s a lot we’ve learned about technology and smart fencing. There is technology that can be used instead of a physical barrier. It requires us having enough personnel along the border so that people can be supervising a certain limited amount of space and can be responsive in the event of people attempting to cross illegally. The way that the Bush administration is going about this, filing eminent domain actions against landowners and municipalities, makes no sense. After a careful review, listening to the people who live along the border, there may be limited places where it would work. But let’s deploy more technology and personnel, instead of the physical barrier. That will work better and will give us an opportunity to secure our borders without interfering with family relations, business relations, recreation and so much else that makes living along the border wonderful.
A: Well, for a couple of reasons. For one, there is a shortage of farm workers. This is a sector of the economy that over decades has been demonstrated to be very difficult to attract legal workers. That is not true yet in the hotel industry and the hospitality industry. So I would like to solve what is clearly a shortage-of-labor problem in the agricultural sector. I’d like to see it be a part of comprehensive immigration reform. In the absence of that, what’s happening is that farmers in California are starting to move their production facilities to Mexico and Latin American. It’s going to be a lose-lose for us if we don’t get that agricultural problem fixed.
A: I think it’s really sad that individual communities are trying to cope with our broken immigration system. It should not be the responsibility of a municipality or county. This has to be fixed at the federal level. There are lots of strong arguments against turning local police officers into immigration enforcement officials. It has to do with making sure people will report crimes, making sure people will go to the police when there’s a problem. That’s a matter of public safety. It doesn’t always only affect the immigrant community, it affects all of us. So I far prefer that we try to do what needs to be done on comprehensive immigration reform and I have spoken, you know, very forthrightly about what I would do.
A: I do not think that it is either appropriate to give a driver’s license to someone who is here undocumented, putting them, frankly, at risk, because that is clear evidence that they are not here legally, and I believe it is a diversion from what should be the focus at creating a political coalition with the courage to stand up and change the immigration system.
A: I co-sponsored comprehensive immigration reform in 2004. So I’ve been on record on behalf of this for quite some time. Representing New York, the home of the Statue of Liberty, bringing all of our immigrants to our shores, has been not only an extraordinary privilege, but given me the opportunity to speak out on these issues. When the House passed the most mean-spirited provision that said, if you were to give any help whatsoever to someone here illegally, you would commit a crime, I stood up and said that would have criminalized the Good Samaritan and Jesus Christ himself. I have been on record on this against this kind of demagoguery, this mean-spiritedness. It is something that I take very personally, because I have not only worked on behalf of immigrants; I have been working to make conditions better for many years. But let’s do it in a practical, realistic approach.
A: Well, there’s three different points here. First, we need to have English as a common, unifying language. It’s an important part of who we are and how we keep this big, diverse country of ours going. Secondly, there are a lot of Americans who are citizens who speak different languages. I represent New York City. I think there’s, like, 170 languages and dialects; the city would be in total chaos if people didn’t get some services and some help in the language that they actually understood. And thirdly, make it clear that we do expect people who want to become legal in America to try to learn English. But that doesn’t mean that they have to give up the language that they originally had, but we have to do more with English as second language, more help in schools, to get people to be able to speak and comprehend English
A: I deeply regret the way the Republicans are politicizing this issue. They are trying to outdo each other in basically demeaning and attacking those who are here in our country--yes, without documentation--but who are often doing the work that allows raising their families and making a contribution. The answer is comprehensive immigration reform. We have to keep working towards it. Yes, we’ve got to have tougher border security. We do have to crack down on employers who exploit and employee undocumented people. We’ve got to do more to help local communities bear the costs of it. Because they don’t set immigration laws. We’ve got to do more with our neighbors to the south to help them create more economic opportunity for their own people but at the end of the day there has to be an earned path to legalization.
CLINTON: I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it.Actually, we checked the video, and Clinton did tell the Nashua Telegraph on Oct. 17 that Spitzer’s plan “makes a lot of sense,” despite her denial to Dodd. During the debate, Clinton repeatedly said immigration should be dealt with nationally, not on a state-by-state basis. But after a long exchange she still hadn’t answered the question.
DODD: Wait a minute. You said yes, you thought it made sense to do it.
CLINTON: No, I didn’t. But the point is, what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants who are driving?
A: I do favor much more border patrolling and much more technology on both of our borders, and in certain areas, even a physical barrier, because I think we’ve got to secure our borders. That has to be part of comprehensive immigration reform. I have championed comprehensive immigration reform, and it includes starting with securing our borders in order to give people the support they need to come over and support us when it comes to having a pathway to legalization. We all know that this has become a contentious political issue. We want to work in a bipartisan way to have comprehensive reform--employer verification, more help for local communities so that they can pay for schooling and hospital and other expenses that they have to bear because of the immigration crisis.
A: Absolutely. And I think there are three different aspects of this.
A: There are many in the political and the broadcast world today who take a particular aim at our Latino population. And I think it’s very destructive. It undermines our unity as a country. There was a particularly egregious example of that in the House-passed bill last year. The House bill tried to criminalize anyone who helped an illegal immigrant, anyone who gave them medical care, any church that opened up to give them food at a dinner or breakfast. And I said that it would have criminalized the Good Samaritan. It would have criminalized Jesus Christ. We have to say no, we are a nation of immigrants, and we will respect and treat one another with dignity.
A: Why do they have sanctuary cities? In large measure because if local law enforcement begins to act like immigration enforcement officers, you will hav people not reporting crimes. You will have people hiding from the police. That is a real direct threat to the personal safety and security of all the citizens. So this is a result of the failure of the federal government, and that’s where it needs to be fixed.
Q: But you would allow the sanctuary cities to disobey the federal law?
A: Well, I don’t think there is any choice. The local police chief trying to solve a crime might know people from the immigrant community have information about it, but they may not talk to you if they think you’re also going to be enforcing the immigration laws. Local law enforcement has a different job than federal immigration enforcement. The problem is the federal government has totally abdicated its responsibility.
A: I’m in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, which includes tightening our border security, sanctioning employers to employ undocumented immigrants, getting the 12 million or so immigrants out of the shadows. That’s very important to me. After 9/11, we’ve got to know who’s in this country. And then giving them a chance to pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English & stand in line to be eligible for a legal status in this country.
A prominent Democrat had figured it out! (The NY Times later quoted it as “against illegal immigration.”) After she smacked employers of illegal aliens, she went right for the throat of the 2nd culprit, the federal government:
“We ought to come up with a much better entry & exit system so that if we’re going to let people in for the work that otherwise would not be done, let’s have a system that keeps track of them.”Even my brother Pat Buchanan commented that Hillary’s “forthrightness makes Bush sound like a talking head for La Raza.” But Hillary had no follow-up to this unusual foray into the enemy camp, and her liberal voting pattern remained unaltered.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. VITTER: There are so-called sanctuary cities which establish as an official policy of their jurisdiction: We are not going to cooperate with Federal immigration enforcement officials. That is wrong. What is more, it is completely contrary to Federal immigration law. My amendment says: We are going to put some consequence to that defiance of Federal law. We are not going to give them COPS funds. We are going to send those funds, instead, to all of those other jurisdictions which abide by Federal law.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. DURBIN: There are sanctuary cities in about 23 different States across America. What the Vitter amendment will do is to take away the COPS funding from those cities. Police departments will tell you they need the cooperation of everyone to solve crimes and stop crime. If you create fear in the minds of those who are here in an undocumented status that any cooperation with the police will result in their arrest, they will not cooperate and criminals will go free. Let's not use the COPS Program as some sort of threat. If you want to deal with immigration, deal with it responsibly in a comprehensive way. SUPPORTER'S RESPONSE:Sen. VITTER: If folks feel that way, they should come to Congress and change Federal law, not simply defy Federal law. This is another amnesty vote. Are we going to give folks in sanctuary cities amnesty for defying Federal law and refusing to cooperate with Federal immigration officials? LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Motion to Table Agreed to, 58-40
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
If we do not legislate now, we will not legislate later this year when our calendar is crowded with Iraq and appropriations bills. We are then an election year, and it will be pushed over to 2009. Circumstances will not be better then, they will be worse.
A vote against cloture is a vote to kill the bill. A Senator may vote for cloture and then express himself in opposition to the bill by voting against the bill.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
If this bill becomes law, we will see only a 13% reduction in illegal immigration into America, and in the next 20 years we will have another 8.7 million illegals in our country. How can that be reformed? I submit this would be a disaster.
The Congressional telephone systems have shut down because of the mass phone calls Congress is receiving. A decent respect for the views of the American people says let's stop here now. Let's go back to the drawing board and come up with a bill that will work.
The American people get it, and they do have common sense and wisdom on this issue. They know repeating the fundamental mistakes of the 1986 bill, joining a big amnesty with inadequate enforcement, will cause the problem to grow and not diminish. They know promising enforcement after 30 years of broken promises isn't good enough. They know the so-called trigger is a joke because if the trigger is never pulled, the Z visas, the amnesty happens forever.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
Right now, the polling shows that 91% of the people in America want English as an official language, and 76% of Hispanics believe English should be an official language.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
I believe the American people understand in order to succeed in our society, immigrants need to learn English. But the amendment would do a number of things that are problematical. The first is that it is contrary to the provisions of law that exist in many States. For example, in New Mexico, you have in their State Constitution, a provision that says that many of the documents within that State have to be provided in both English and Spanish. The same thing is true for the State of Hawaii. I believe this is a States rights issue, and those constitutions of those States ought to be respected. I do not believe it is a matter we ought to be imposing here from Washington DC.
Also, this amendment would undo an executive order conceived by President Bill Clinton and implemented by President George Bush. Both recognized it is important that people who have limited English proficiency receive the kinds of services so they can understand what is going on in terms of the interface between the Government and themselves.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
This legislation says we wish to add something called guest workers or temporary workers. With guest workers, working Americans would discover there is no opportunity for upward mobility at their job. In fact, every day their employers are trying to find ways to push down wages, eliminate retirement, and eliminate health care. What has happened in this country, with what is called the "new global economy," is dramatic downward pressure on income for American workers. The guest worker program provides that 400,000 people will be able to come in to assume jobs in our country per year--adding to the 12 million illegal immigrants already here.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
I certainly concur about the need to secure our borders, about the need to have a workable immigration system, and the need for reform that ensures the rule of law is restored in the US. Where I differ is in the belief that we can actually achieve these goals if we have no ability for temporary workers to come to the country. This amendment would eliminate the temporary worker program from this bill.
Now, there are several reasons why a temporary worker program, within certain constraints, is a good idea. The first reason is because it will help to relieve the magnet for illegal immigration. The reason most of the people are crossing our border illegally is to get employment. There are jobs available for them. Some people say this is work Americans will not do. That is actually not true. But there are not enough American citizens to do all of the work that needs to be done. So naturally the law of supply and demand sets in here. People come across the border illegally, and they take that work. What we want to do is both close the border, but also eliminate the magnet for illegal employment here, because the reality is desperate people will always try to find some way to get into the country.
Proponents support voting YES because:
It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:
Proponents support voting YES because:
It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of
To reduce document fraud, prevent identity theft, and preserve the integrity of the Social Security system, by ensuring that persons who receive an adjustment of status under this bill are not able to receive Social Security benefits as a result of unlawful activity.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, an alien having nonimmigrant status is ineligible for and may not apply for adjustment of status.''
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Grants States the option of covering certain categories of eligible pregnant women and child resident aliens, including targeted low-income children, under the Medicaid and SCHIP programs.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. CLINTON: This legislation would allow States to use Federal funds to provide critical healthcare services to pregnant women and children. This bill is fundamentally about three things--fairness, fiscal relief, and financial savings.
I will start with fairness. All across America, legal immigrants work hard, pay taxes, and exercise their civic responsibilities. Yet, in 1996, Congress denied safety net services to legal immigrants who had been in the country for less than 5 years.
This legislation is also a matter of good fiscal policy. Today, 19 States use State funds to provide healthcare services to legal immigrants within the 5-year waiting period. At least 155,000 children and 60,000 adults are receiving these benefits. A total of 387,000 recent legal immigrants would be eligible to receive these services if their States opt to take advantage of the program.
And finally, this bill is about long-term healthcare cost savings. Covering uninsured children and pregnant women through Medicaid can reduce unnecessary hospitalization by 22%. Pregnant women who forgo prenatal care are more likely to develop complications during pregnancy, which results in higher costs for postpartum care. And women without access to prenatal care are four times more likely to deliver low birth weight infants and seven times more likely to deliver prematurely than women who receive prenatal care, according to the Institute of Medicine. All of these health outcomes are costly to society and to the individuals involved.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Finance; never came to a vote.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To establish a grant program to provide financial assistance to States and local governments for the costs of providing health care and educational services to noncitizens, and to provide additional funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP).
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. CLINTON: Immigration is a Federal responsibility. For too long the Federal Government has neglected its duty. My amendment addresses one of the clearest examples of this neglect because our failed national immigration policy has left our State and local governments to bear the brunt of the cost of immigration. Our schools, our hospitals, our other State and local services are being strained.
This amendment does several things. It helps finally provide adequate support for State and local governments. How? Well, it not only appropriates the SCAAP funding to our States, but it establishes a program that provides financial assistance to State and local governments for the cost of health and educational services related to immigration. Money is allocated to our States in accordance with a funding formula based on the size and recent growth of the State's noncitizen population. The State must then pass the funds on to local governments and other entities that need the money for reimbursement.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Rollcall vote #133; lost 43-52.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 USBC scores as follows:
U.S. Border Control, founded in 1988, is a non-profit, tax-exempt, citizen's lobby. USBC is dedicated to ending illegal immigration by securing our nation's borders and reforming our immigration policies. USBC [works with] Congressmen to stop amnesty; seal our borders against terrorism and illegal immigration; and, preserve our nation's language, culture and American way of life for future generations.
Our organization accepts no financial support from any branch of government. All our support comes from concerned citizens who appreciate the work we are doing to seal our borders against drugs, disease, illegal migration and terrorism and wish to preserve our nation's language, culture and heritage for the next generations.
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