WASHINGTON — Speaking to a gathering of Latino activists, Hillary Clinton said Thursday that the fate of comprehensive immigration reform — and the broader character of the country — rests on whether she or Donald Trump prevails in November.
“We’re not just choosing a president and commander in chief this fall,” Clinton said at a conference of the League of United Latin American Citizens. “The choices we make will say a lot about who we are.”
The presumptive Democratic nominee derided her Republican opponent for “running the most divisive campaign of our lifetime,” calling him “someone who thinks Latino outreach is tweeting a picture of a Taco Bowl.”
Seeking to make a sharp contrast, Clinton pledged she would introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill within the first 100 days of her administration and said she is committed to expanding President Barack Obama’s plan to defer deportations, despite a major legal setback last month in the Supreme Court, an aide said.
“I know how important family is, and I want to do everything I can as president to keep families together,” Clinton said. “There’s nothing more important to families who live in fear and anxiety.”
Immigration became a flash point early in the 2016 presidential election cycle, with Trump calling for mass deportations and sparking controversies over his characterization of Mexicans as “rapists” and of a federal judge of Hispanic heritage as unable to preside impartially over a lawsuit against Trump University.
Clinton referenced those controversies in her remarks Thursday, dwelling on Trump’s characterization of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel as a “Mexican judge” — which she called “a cynical calculated attempt to fan the flames of racial division.”
“Judge Curiel was born in Indiana,” Clinton said. “Last time I checked, it was part of the United States.”
Clinton’s appearance Thursday came less than a month after a deadlocked Supreme Court did not revive Obama’s stalled plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and give them the right to work legally in the United States.
Clinton stressed her commitment to pursuing Obama’s initiative, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, and to continue the use of executive actions to broaden the stalled program’s scope.
She also pledged to push Congress to adopt broader immigration reforms, warning that Trump’s election would be a huge setback in that regard.
“Whether we get it done will depend on this election,” Clinton said.