In the Democratic Debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Clash on Immigration
By PATRICK HEALY and AMY CHOZICK MARCH 9, 2016 162 COMMENTS
Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders clashed vividly over immigration reform, health care and Cuba during a contentious debate Wednesday as the two Democrats appealed to Hispanic voters and tried to outdo each other in assailing Donald J. Trump.
Mrs. Clinton, bruised by her surprise loss in the Michigan primary a day earlier, was on the attack throughout the debate as she sought to undercut Mr. Sanders’s momentum before the next round of primaries.
Aiming her remarks at viewers watching on Univision, a Spanish-language sponsor of the debate, Mrs. Clinton threw his past support for Fidel Castro and President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua in Mr. Sanders’s face and repeatedly criticized him for opposing a 2007 bill that would have created a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the country illegally.
She refused to let up when Mr. Sanders explained that he thought the guest worker provisions in the bill were “akin to slavery.” Mrs. Clinton argued that she, Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Hispanic groups would never have supported such a bill. Her broadsides finally became too much for Mr. Sanders when she accused him of supporting “vigilantes known as Minutemen” on the border.
In their final debate before primaries in Florida, Ohio and other states on Tuesday, the two Democrats were a study in contrasts as they made stark appeals to the demographic groups they have come to prize.
Mrs. Clinton repeatedly aligned herself with the needs and concerns of immigrant families and stuck to her promise to “knock down barriers” in employment and housing, hoping these priorities would inspire Hispanics and African-Americans and deliver her landslide victories in Florida and North Carolina.
Mr. Sanders’s rallying cries against the “rigged economy” and “establishment politics” were aimed at liberals, young people, working-class white voters and independents who could be decisive for him in Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, his top targets next week…
“Secretary Clinton prevailed upon the governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who wanted to do the right thing and provide driver’s licenses to those who were undocumented,” Mr. Sanders said. “She said, ‘Don’t do it,’ and New York State still does not do it.” He also noted that he had supported allowing children from war-torn Central American countries to enter the United States and asserted that Mrs. Clinton’s view was “send them back.”
“That is something that is not fair about what I said,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I did say we needed to be very concerned about little children coming to this country on their own, very often, many of them not making it, and when they got here, they needed, as I have argued for, legal counsel, due process, to make a decision.”