The Republican response to Hillary Clinton’s call for a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the United States illegally has been met with an awkward air of terrified silence from the Republican presidential candidates.
During a roundtable in Nevada, former Sec. of State Clinton said:
If we claim that we are for families, we have to pull together and solve the outstanding issues around our broken immigration system. We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship.
Make no mistakes, not a single Republican candidate announced or potential is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one. When they talk about legal status that is code for second class status.
I don’t understand how anyone can look at these young people and think that we should break up more families, or turn away more hard workers with talent to help us build the kind of country we all want to see. So I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for your families across our country. I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put Dreamers, including those with us today, at risk of deportation, and if Congress continues to act, as president, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further.
Clinton directly called out Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush with her line about legal status being code for second class status, but the response from the Republican candidates has been silence. The only Republican response was a weak salvo from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who said, “Obviously she’s pretty good at pandering and flipping and flopping and doing and saying anything she needs to say.” The Clinton campaign was practically daring Jeb Bush to say something about immigration, but he can’t because he is already on shaky ground with Republican primary voters.
The reality for those who care about immigration reform is that Hillary Clinton’s statements were right in line with the feelings of a large majority of the Democratic Party. Immigration reform is an issue that offers a clear choice to voters. Democrats are discussing pathways to citizenship while Republicans are pushing deportation of 11 million people.
Republicans have fooled themselves into believing that they can attract Hispanic votes by having Jeb Bush speak a little Spanish, and Marco Rubio discuss his Cuban heritage. The surface appeals aren’t going to work with voters because it’s about the policies.
Former Sec. Clinton has Republicans running scared on immigration.
Immigration reform is the one issue that the Republican presidential candidates don’t want to talk about, but Hillary Clinton just forced them into the conversation.