WASHINGTON. – Aspiring democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton expressed confidence that she would win last Tuesday’s primary in New York and considered that, with her advantage in votes and delegates, her rival’s campaign, Sen. Bernie Sanders, “is getting very nervous.”
In an exclusive interview with La Opinión, on the eve of the primary, which had 247 delegates at stake, Clinton assessed the state of the war and outlined her plans to expand Obama’s executive order and to promote immigration reform, support the reform process in Mexico and strengthen U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America, among other topics.
Read the entire interview:
Assuming that migrant reliefs are implemented, how would you go about expanding them as you have promised?
There are millions of families whose futures are at stake with the Supreme Court, and this is a very important issue in this election because, on the Republican side, you have Donald Trump and Ted Cruz saying that they want to deport eleven million people.
On the Democratic side, we would not be in this situation if Senator Sanders had voted for the comprehensive immigration reform introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy in 2007 … many say that this was our best opportunity to achieve the reform, because we had the necessary votes in the House of Representatives and a president willing to enact it.
I firmly believe that the court should do the right thing, and I think it will. I will defend DACA and DAPA, I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform as soon as I become president, because I know how much is at stake, and I want to give support and reassurance to families who are here, and put them on a path to citizenship.
The Senate voted for a comprehensive reform in 2013. You said that your agenda is to solve problems. If Congress is under Republican control, what would be your strategy to push for a progressive agenda, and immigration reform?
I think we have a very good chance starting January, because two things could happen: we will recover the Senate, with a Democrat majority, and that would be a good step forward, and equally important. If I achieve the nomination, I will defeat the Republican nominee. That, again, will teach them they cannot win if they are so negative and filled with hatred against immigrants. This would put us in a strong position starting January to introduce a bill and get it passed into law.
You propose to create an office in the White House to assist in the integration of immigrants. How would that differ from what the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) already does?
It would help coordinate all the departments that deal with immigrants and immigration in our government. I want it in the White House and, although it will also affect the refugees, I want it to concentrate on the integration of immigrants, working with the Department of Homeland Security and its dependencies, and with the departments of Labor and State. It will have extra money to provide more ‘community navigators’ to help immigrants.
I will push for a new emphasis on naturalization, because there are nine million people that could become citizens. We’ll have more fee exemptions for citizenship tests and procedures, and more programs for English learners … this is the result of many conversations with immigrants and activists.
In those conversations, was there ever a story that impacted more than others?
Many have done so. Many people have told me that they would like to apply for citizenship, but they do not have the more than $600 that are required, and these are people who have been legally in our country, in some cases, for 30, 40 years. That cannot go on, and we want a more affordable process.
I have met many people who want to improve their English, but there are no available programs that adjust to their working hours where they live, or they simply do not have access to transportation to make it to these programs.
How optimistic do you feel with the New York primary, considering that Senator Sanders is spending more than you there, and the race is tied Upstate?
I feel very good about the election, but I do not take for granted anyone or anywhere in the state. We will approach the largest possible number of voters and mobilize them to vote. I will not make predictions, but I feel good where we are in the election; I’ve had a great campaign. I represented New York during eight wonderful years, I met a lot of people in the state, and I hope that everything comes out well.
How did the race reach the point where it is no longer friendly?
Senator Sanders and I have taken a presidential campaign based on the topics, and that makes me proud, instead of the type of insults that you see on the Republican side. Yes, we have contrasting point of views: I have a hard position against the pro-guns lobby; he does not. I have a detailed plan for jobs, manufacture and infrastructure; he does not.
I support a plan for universities at reasonable prices that I think will work; his plan depends on governors providing a third of the funds. He wants to begin again with the health reform; I want to defend and to improve the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
He [Sanders] has not been a leader in immigration … I have an advantage over him of 2.4 million votes and about 220 or 230 delegates. I believe that his campaign is getting very nervous, and when people get nervous, they say and they do things …
I will continue debating the topics, I will point out the differences, but I will unite the party when I have the fortune of achieving the candidacy, because our true goal must be to overcome the Republicans.
How different will your administration be in regards to president Barack Obama’s, or even president Bill Clinton’s? I mean, for example, the policies toward Cuba, the crisis in Puerto Rico, and peace negotiations in Colombia.
I firmly support the President’s policy towards Cuba. I strongly recommended that, when the time was appropriate, to make efforts for opening and bettering relations with Cuba and, at the same time defend human rights, freedom and democratic aspirations of the Cuban people.
Regarding Colombia, I firmly support a right and lasting peace for Colombia, and I will all that’s possible to endorse a negotiated agreement so that the government and the people of Colombia can build a peace agreement. I support the funds that the White House has suggested for “Peace Colombia”, so that we become a strong partner.
I also want to deepen and broaden our relationship with Mexico. I visited Mexico five times as a Secretary of State; I know how important our relationship is. We must handle our 2,000 mile-border; supporting 20,000 students studying in each other’s country, and the safety of Americans and Mexicans.
I will work very hard to be a good partner for Mexico, and keep pushing to reform the administration and respect for human rights.
Many people from the Mexican community in the U.S. are upset by the unresolved case of the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa. People believe that the Mexican government has not done enough to clarify what happened, and their relatives wait their return home.
I could not agree more; it is something outrageous. If I were in the Mexican government, I would not be resting until discovering what happened with those 42 [sic] young ones. Their kidnapping was a terrible violation of the law; it is something for which everyone in Mexico should unite to find answers. If there were something the U.S. could do to help, I would be the first one to offer it. I cannot imagine the anguish that parents and relatives feel.
Congress resists any pressure to help Puerto Rico with its debt crisis.
I am absolutely committed to help Puerto Rico to deal with the crisis; it is a high priority for me. I have been requesting that Congress take action to allow the government of Puerto Rico to reorganize its debt, and even grant it the ability to declare bankruptcy.
I visited Puerto Rico in September to see it firsthand. The situation is terrible: half of the people live in poverty, basic services are being cancelled, and I think it is absolutely wrong that Congress has not acted yet. I will keep pushing them to act.
Any one of these investors who invested in the debt would have to be at the end of the tail; in my opinion, they should not receive any priority over the needs of the Puerto Rican people.
Central America is still in the news for the terrible violence, and president Obama tries to restrain the flow of illegal immigration. What can we expect from a Clinton’s administration next year to help Central America?
I want to see how much more we can help stabilize the situation in Central America, because I agree that the deaths and criminal activity are destabilizing these countries and that is wrong.
I want to see that we turn our attention to a Central American plan, in the same way we help Colombia, where we demanded that the government behave properly, we could use our assistance to change behavior, and eventually we could reach a situation in which the government could regain FARC and drug traffickers territory.
That’s what we have to do to help people in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They need help to regain control over criminals and gangs that are terrorizing people.
Families do not want to leave their communities but, of course, they do not feel safe, so we have to focus on what we can do to give them more security.