Finally, a presidential contender who supports comprehensive reform with a pathway to citizenship for those who want it, and who, as long as that reform that would legalize millions of undocumented does not materialize, favors preserving the executive actions on DACA and DAPA. This marks a sharp contrast with the tone of the current immigration debate among presidential candidates, and Hillary Clinton’s own position during her failed 2008 campaign.
The statements of the former senator and secretary of state in front of a group of “Dreamers” protected by DACA – but 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 children, women, men, and 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 migratory 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 the undocumented are, without a doubt, part of a political strategy, but this is not only about theory nor it happens in a vacuum. It has a profound human impact.
Clinton has evolved from her 2008 opposition to drivers’ licenses for the undocumented and her doubts when then-candidate Barack Obama promised migratory 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 their promises obstructed when Congress does not support migratory reform.
For Latinos, what’s more important about the migratory debate will be to see who defends the executive current actions, as opposed to those who, for example, support a migratory reform but only after stripping millions of people from protection from deportation. In this case, the candidacy of Hillary Clinton has a big advantage.