Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, June 19, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nev. 
Photo by David Becker/AP

Bernie Sanders makes immigration pitch, takes veiled shot at Hillary Clinton

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Sen. Bernie Sanders made his pitch to a group of Latino elected leaders here Friday, and took an apparent veiled dig at Hillary Clinton, who spoke here the day before.

Sanders, who comes for a state that is nearly 95% white, rarely talks about immigration on the stump. But he spent about 20 minutes here laying out his vision for reform.

He told the story of his father, a penniless immigrant from Poland who raised two sons that went to college, and said that his story and that of many others in the room “is the story of America.” 

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Sanders called for comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship and said he wanted to expand on the executive actions taken by President Obama to extend deportation relief to million of undocumented immigrants. 

That puts him in line with Hillary Clinton, who at an event here last month called for upholding Obama’s actions and doing more.

But he also took an apparent dig at Clinton without mentioning her by name.

“It was appalling to me that last year when the papers were full of discussion of the large numbers of unaccompanied children at the borders there were so many voices insisting they be turned away or simply shipped back to their country of origin like a package marked return to sender,” he said. 

“America has always been a haven for the oppressed. Is there any group more vulnerable than children? We cannot and must not shirk the historic role of the United States as a protector of vulnerable people fleeing persecution,” the presidential candidate continued.

Last year, during the Southern Border Crisis, Clinton rankled immigration activists by saying Latin American children turning up at the border needed to be “sent back.” 

“They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,” Clinton said during a CNN town hall as part of her book tour. “We have so to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay. So, we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.”

Sanders has his own complicated record on immigration, including past opposition to a guest worker program. But in the face of united Republican opposition, almost all Democrats are on the same page today.