Democratic Candidates: Quit Your 'Hispandering,' Says Univision Anchor Maria Elena Salinas
If you're a presidential candidate visiting Miami, don't bother ordering a café Cubano or sipping a Cuba Libre. The jig is up. Everyone knows you're "Hispandering."
"'Hispandering' happens all the time in all elections," says Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas, who co-moderated Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Florida. "Sometimes they go to the West Coast and put on a sombrero and have some tacos."
So at Wednesday night's debate, Salinas called Clinton on it.
"So Secretary, I have a question for you," Salinas intoned. "In 2003, you said on a radio show, specifically it was John Gambling's radio show in New York, that you were adamantly against illegal immigrants and that people have to stop employing illegal immigrants. Your new immigration plan is that you would expand President Obama's executive actions and that you would push for legislation that would include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
"So are you flip-flopping on this issue? Or are you pandering to Latinos, what some would call 'Hispandering?'"
Clinton dodged the question. She just trumpeted her support for the Dream Act and applauded the late Senator Ted Kennedy for his efforts at immigration reform.
Salinas then asked Bernie Sanders to respond to comments he made to Lou Dobbs on CNN in 2007 when he defended his vote against immigration reform.
"He said he was voting against it," Salinas says, "because he didn't want millions of millions of workers coming to this country and bringing down wages and taking jobs from Americans."
Sanders' response: Hispandering, Salinas says.
"He went completely to the opposite way and defended his position on migrant workers and the conditions they would be under," she says. "I don't know that it moved any votes one way or another but I think it's clear that candidates usually say what they feel they need to say to get the Latino vote."
Salinas says what's notable is that the current immigration platforms of both Sanders and Clinton are more expansive than anything President Obama has proposed.
"They want immigration reform with a path to citizenship. They won't deport anyone," she says. "They both committed last night that they would not deport children and they would not deport immigrants who don't have a criminal record. They say that they will have executive actions if there's no immigration reform."
Salinas says Obama made similiar promises but ended up breaking them for a simple reason: "It's not up to the president. It's up to Congress. And as long as you have a Republican Congress that is against immigration reform with a path to citizenship, it's just not going to happen."
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Thousands of kids traveling without their parents are detained each month at the US-Mexico border. Most come from Central America.
And Jackie Gonzalez, immigration managing attorney with the Centro Legal de la Raza in California, says those migrants kids have big hurdles to face, even once they get to the US.
“The largest challenge they face is the need to engage and confront a system without any appointed attorney to help them navigate the process of asylum, which is extremely complicated for an adult to understand on their own, let alone a child,” Gonzalez says.
She says some children her group works with are as young as 18 months, on up to teenagers, and they’re expected to attend court hearings on their own and engage in the US' immigration system to apply for asylum — all without an attorney.
One 16-year-old didn't know he had to attend a court hearing, she says.
“Because he failed the court hearing,” says Gonzalez, “he was deported in his absence. This happens to many children who don’t understand they have multiple obligations and paperwork that they receive and don’t understand.”
As Univision's Salinas sees it, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton made a commitment Wednesday night not to deport undocumented immigrant children.
From PRI's The World ©2015 Public Radio International