Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called on Tuesday for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, courting Latino voters and drawing a line between herself and Republican rivals for the White House in 2016.
“We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship. Now, this is where I differ from everybody on the Republican side,” Clinton told a group of students at a high school in Nevada.
The Latino vote is likely to be crucial in the 2016 election, especially in potential swing states like Nevada and Colorado. Republicans are seeking to win a bigger slice of the Latino vote than in 2012 when they were perceived by many Hispanics as being too tough on illegal immigration
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a Republican who is weighing a White House bid, has proposed legal status for undocumented immigrants that falls short of full citizenship, although he has not ruled out some way for them to become Americans eventually.
Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the November 2016 presidential election, said Republicans were offering “second-class status.”
“When they talk about legal status, that is code for
second-class status and we should never forget who this debate is about,” she said at Rancho High School.
The school is approximately 70 percent Hispanic and less than 10 miles north of the Las Vegas strip of casinos, a magnet for workers from all over the world.
Another potential rival of Clinton, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, played a prominent role in drafting a broad immigration bill in 2013 which ultimately failed in Congress. He has since backed off a comprehensive reform effort.