San­ders, Clin­ton in sync on immigration

Business Mirror - - THE WORLD - Los Angeles Times/ TNS

FED­ERAL agents came for Erika An­di­ola’s mother in 2013. A well-known im­mi­grant- rights ac­tivist in Ari­zona, An­di­ola was able to stop her mother’s de­por­ta­tion af­ter mount­ing a pub­lic cam­paign. But nearly hav­ing her mother kicked out of the coun­try by the ad­min­is­tra­tion of a Demo­cratic pres­i­dent eroded any al­le­giance the young ac­tivist felt to the Demo­cratic Party.

To­day, An­di­ola is part of a group of Latino ad­vis­ers to Bernie San­ders who are vo­cally crit­i­cal of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and his party’s record on immigration. She and other San­ders sup­port­ers fre­quently men­tion the record num­ber of de­por­ta­tions car­ried out un­der Obama’s watch and at times have called on Lati­nos not to vote for cer­tain Democrats who they be­lieve have blocked ef­forts to limit de­por­ta­tions.

Their promi­nence in San­ders’s cam­paign un­der­scores how much the race be­tween the Ver­mont sen­a­tor and Hil­lary Clin­ton has be­come en­tan­gled in an­other fight— a long- run­ning bat­tle be­tween Obama and his party’s left wing over immigration en­force­ment.

Clin­ton has tied her­self closely to the pres­i­dent, who has solid ap­proval rat­ings among Democrats. That has paid im­por­tant elec­toral div­i­dends, par­tic­u­larly in so­lid­i­fy­ing the sup­port of black vot­ers. But just as she has gath­ered many of Obama’s friends, the for­mer sec­re­tary of state has also in­her­ited his op­po­nents.

San­ders and Clin­ton have of­fered largely sim­i­lar pro­pos­als. Both have pledged to go fur­ther than Obama in cur­tail­ing de­por­ta­tions of im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally. Both have turned to im­mi­grant ac­tivists, some of whom came to the coun­try il­le­gally, to help de­sign their plat­forms on the is­sue.

But their sup­port­ers have en­gaged in fierce bat­tles that of­ten seem to have less to do with the can­di­dates them­selves than with the ex­ist­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The im­pact can be seen among Latino vot­ers, many of whom view immigration as a top is­sue. A new USC Dorn­sife/ Los Angeles Times poll of Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers found a gen­er­a­tional di­vide in the Latino vote, with San­ders beat­ing Clin­ton 58 per­cent to 31 per­cent among Latino vot­ers younger than 50 in ad­vance of the state’s pri­mary on Tues­day. Among older Lati­nos, Clin­ton led 69 per­cent to 16 per­cent.

Obama has spo­ken fre­quently about the need for a com­pre­hen­sive immigration bill that would al­low most of the 11 mil­lion peo­ple in the coun­try with­out per­mis­sion to stay. Yet, he chose not to push such leg­is­la­tion dur­ing his first term in of­fice, not even dur­ing his first two years, when Democrats con­trolled of both chambers of Congress.

In his sec­ond term, a com­pre­hen­sive bill passed the Se­nate with a bi­par­ti­san coali­tion, but then died in the Repub­li­can- con­trolled House.

While Obama has given work per­mits and de­por­ta­tion de­fer­rals to some im­mi­grants with long­stand­ing ties to the US, he has also over­seen the de­por­ta­tion of more than 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple in the coun­try il­le­gally.

Some Latino ac­tivists see that as a be­trayal.

“If we’re talk­ing about par­ties be­ing hard on Lati­nos, let’s talk about the Democrats, not just the Repub­li­cans,” An­di­ola, a San­ders spokesman, said at a heated fo­rum on immigration at Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Los Angeles this week. An­di­ola, who was brought to the US from Mex­ico il­le­gally at age 11, and who won a tem­po­rary work per­mit un­der Obama’s de­por­ta­tion de­fer­ral pro­gram, blamed Democrats for look­ing the other way while Obama presided over a record num­ber of de­por­ta­tions.

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