WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton vowed to expand President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration after the Supreme Court’s deadlocked decision, calling on Latino voters to help stop what she called GOP rival Donald Trump’s efforts to “fan the flames of racial division.”
“Donald Trump is running the most divisive campaign our lifetime. His message is that you should be afraid,” she told a gathering of Latino activists on Thursday. “We’ve got to come back twice as strong and twice as clear. We have got to say with one voice that Latinos are vital part of the American community.”
A deadlocked Supreme Court decision last month effectively killed Obama’s immigration plan to help some of the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Clinton vowed to restore the program which would have protected the parents of children who are in the country legally and expand benefits to people who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Clinton has made revamping the country’s immigration system a key plank of her presidential campaign. She has said she will introduce legislation during her first 100 days in office.
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Speaking at the annual convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens on Thursday, Clinton promised to create a clearer immigration system where immigrants with “sympathetic cases” or a history of community service can be eligible for special status. She also vowed to eliminate family detention centers, which hold undocumented immigrant families, including children and babies, for weeks or even months in what advocates call prison-like conditions while they wait for legal processing.
“These actions are not consistent with our values,” said Clinton. “I know how important family is and I want to do everything I can to keep families together.”
Trump’s proposals, said Clinton, would deport 16 million immigrants currently living in the United States, cost the country around $1 trillion in economic output and weaken a fundamental American value.
Her campaign sees Latino voters as a key piece of their electoral coalition not only for 2016 but the future of the Democratic Party. Latinos are one of the country’s fastest growing demographic groups and Clinton called on them to help her party win up and down the ticket in November.
“I’m going to work my heart out but I need your help,” she said. “This is your election.”
Trump’s promises to build a wall along the Southern border, create a special deportation force to catch undocumented immigrants and references to Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists have alienated many Latino voters.
“They will nominate someone who thinks Latino outreach is tweeting a picture of a taco bowl,” said Clinton.
In recent weeks, Clinton has highlighted those proposals to try to show Trump as blocking progress by sewing national discord and chaos.
“I got a letter from a mom the other day who said her adopted son asked her with a shaky voice if President Trump will send him back to Ethiopia,” Clinton said in a Wednesday speech in Springfield, Ill. “When our kids are scared by our policy debates, it’s a sign something has gone badly off the rails.”
An ad released by her campaign in battleground states on Thursday attempted to reinforce that message, featuring clips of young children watching Trump make some of his more controversial remarks about women and minorities.
“Our children are watching,” the ad says. “What example will we set for them?”
Trump is not expected to address the meeting on Thursday. Clinton is heading to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Democrats before joining Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who’s currently being considered as a potential running mate, for a campaign rally in northern Virginia.
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