With only six days before the Florida primary, Hillary Clinton sought to maintain her lead against rival Bernie Sanders during the Wednesday night Univision/ Washington Post debate in Miami. In their eighth debate, both Sanders and Clinton were asked to address immigration as well as racially charged language employed by Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
Moderator Jorge Ramos pushed Clinton for a yes or no answer on whether or not she would deport undocumented children, asking if she would be the next “deporter-in-chief.” Clinton said she would deport violent criminals and terrorists. When pressed on whether or not she would deport children, Clinton said she would not.
“If you’re asking about everyone who’s already here, undocumented immigrants, 11 to 12 million who are already here... I do not have the same policy as the current administration does,” Clinton said, referring to President Barack Obama. “I will not deport children. I will not deport children, I do not want to deport family members either, Jorge.”
Sanders also said he would not deport children and went a step further, saying he would not deport immigrants who do not have criminal records. The Vermont senator criticized Clinton for supporting the 2007 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, a bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants residing in the United States while at the same providing increased funding for border security. The bill never came up for a vote. Clinton, meanwhile, said Sanders should have backed immigration reform.
Both candidates were asked about Trump’s controversial statements about Mexicans and Muslims and whether they view him as racist. Clinton said she has called Trump out and said “basta,” Spanish for “stop” or “that’s enough.”
“You don’t make American great, by getting rid of everything that made America great,” Clinton said, adding the American people could draw their own conclusions about Trump’s statements.
Sanders, asked the same question about Trump’s character, said that the obsession with the businessman would pass.
“The American people are never going to elect a president who insults Mexicans, who insults Muslims, who insults women, who insults African-Americans — and let’s not forget, that several years ago, Donald Trump was involved in the so-called birther movement, trying to delegitimize the president of the United States,” Sanders said, addressing the push from Trump and other Republicans for Obama to produce a copy of his birth certificate.
“Nobody has ever asked me for my birth certificate, maybe it has something to do with the color of my skin,” Sanders said to wide applause. Sanders’ father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland.
Clinton and Sanders debated at Miami Dade College with students from the school in attendance. While Clinton holds a solid 30-point lead over Sanders in the Sunshine State, Sanders has managed to tie the former secretary of state in the 18- to 49-year-old bracket. Clinton maintains a significant lead among older voters and women with only 6 percent of voters still undecided. Clinton is hoping to match her success in Texas with the Latino vote. In Florida, more 24 percent of residents identifying as Hispanic.
Florida is a key state for both Democratic candidates with 246 delegates at stake. With 2,383 delegates needed for a nomination, Clinton currently has a significant lead with 1,221 delegates compared to 571 for Sanders.