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La Opinión: The Difference With Hillary

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Editors of La Opinión write that Latino voters are paying close attention to which 2016 presidential contenders are standing up in support of Obama’s executive actions.

Finally, a presidential contender who supports comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for those who want it — and who, as long as that reform that would legalize millions of undocumented immigrants does not materialize, favors preserving the executive actions of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). This marks a sharp contrast with the tone of the current immigration debate among presidential contenders, and Hillary Clinton’s own position during her failed 2008 campaign.

The statements by the former senator and secretary of state in front of a group of “Dreamers” who are protected by DACA – but still worried about their undocumented parents’ even more fragile situation – are refreshing and positive. The immigration issue has been turned into a piñata by Republican candidates eager to hit immigrants, whether they are children, women, men, or even those with papers, as in the case of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Clinton’s decision to acknowledge the human face behind the numbers and acronyms diverges from an intellectualization of the immigration issue in which people become stereotypes and anecdotes are taken as truths. This is a fundamental difference that appears every time a Republican accuses a Democrat of using immigration as a dividing issue or to “make him look bad.” A politician’s stance on immigration and what to do about undocumented immigrants is, without a doubt, part of a political strategy. But it is not just theoretical, nor does it happen in a vacuum. It has a profound human impact.

Clinton has evolved from her 2008 opposition to drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants and her doubts when then-candidate Barack Obama promised immigration reform in his first year in office. Clinton learned from this experience the importance of being clear and positive when it comes to immigration. As for Latino voters, the lesson is the knowledge that a candidate can see his promises obstructed when Congress does not support immigration reform.

For Latinos, what’s most important about the immigration debate is watching to see who defends Obama’s executive actions, and who, for example, says they support immigration reform but only after stripping millions of people of protection from deportation.

In this sense, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has a big advantage.

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