In Case You Missed It: The Arizona Republic: Hillary Clinton: Immigration Needs Reform, Not Trump’s Bigotry

ARIZONA–(ENEWSPF)–June 24, 2016

By: Hillary Clinton

When Josie Mata was 7 years old, she learned that her mother was undocumented.

From that moment on, Josie went to school every day afraid that she might return home to find her mom gone forever.

The Matas live, work and pay taxes in Tucson. Josie now attends the University of Arizona. Yet like so many other mixed-status families, the threat that their lives could be torn apart is never far from mind.

I’ve met many children and families who share this fear. In Las Vegas, a 10-year-old girl named Karla started to cry when she told me her parents had received a letter of deportation. She should have the chance to be the bright and happy little girl she is. Instead, she’s constantly afraid.

It’s become all too easy to see why.

Just this week, the Supreme Court deadlocked in a critical case, putting on hold executive actions taken by President Obama to provide immigrant families relief from deportation. It was heartbreaking and unacceptable.

And while our system fails to provide certainty to immigrant families, political figures like Donald Trump turn them into scapegoats for many of the challenges facing American families today.  His bigotry and fear-mongering may be an attempt to divide our country and distract from his lack of real solutions to raise incomes and create good paying jobs – but it’s not going to work.

Let’s be clear: When Trump talks about forming a “deportation force” to round up and expel 11 million immigrants – he’s talking about ripping apart families like Karla’s and Josie’s.

When he repeatedly suggests that a distinguished American judge’s “Mexican heritage” means that he cannot do his job, it’s the “textbook definition of a racist comment,” to quote the Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

When he praises local figures like Gov. Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he’s endorsing their heartless and divisive policies. And when he speculates about ending birthright citizenship, he’s suggesting undermining the Constitution and tearing American children away from the country they know and love.

Instead of building walls, we ought to be breaking down barriers. Our country has always been stronger when we lift each other up, not tear each other down. We’re stronger together.

That’s why, as president, I’ll fight for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to full and equal citizenship, starting in my first 100 days in office.  We should do everything we can to keep families together, better integrate immigrants into their communities, and help those eligible for naturalization take the last step to citizenship.

First, let’s focus on families. Today in Arizona, over 200,000 U.S. citizens – the vast majority of whom are children – live in the same household as an undocumented immigrant who qualifies for relief from deportation under the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program — the program put on hold by the Supreme Court this week.

As a result of the court’s decision, these families, and millions more like them across our country, have been thrown into a state of uncertainty. As president, I’ll continue to defend DAPA and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) against partisan attacks.

And I’ll do everything possible under the law to go further to protect families. That means ending large-scale raids, ending the practice of family detention and shutting down private detention facilities.

Second, we need to increase our focus on integration and make sure that immigrants are able to thrive in American society. Let’s provide more federal resources to help immigrants learn the English language skills they need to be successful. And because this issue cuts across all levels of government – local, state and federal – I’ll create the first-ever Office of Immigrant Affairs at the White House to help coordinate these policies across the nation.

Third, let’s help the 9 million people in our country who are currently eligible for naturalization become full citizens. They work and pay taxes – yet they cannot vote or serve on juries. Let’s expand fee waivers so that those seeking naturalization can get a break on the costs. And let’s step up our outreach and education, because no one should miss out on the chance to be a citizen.

These steps aren’t just the right thing to do; they’ll also strengthen our entire country.

Bringing more workers into the formal economy boosts everyone’s wages. Recent economic research suggests that comprehensive immigration reform could add more than 8,000 jobs and nearly $700 million to Arizona’s economy – so it would actually benefit every family in the state, no matter how long they’ve lived here.

This is not a new fight for me.

As a young woman, I investigated appalling conditions for migrant workers for a U.S. Senate committee, and I traveled across south Texas registering Latino voters. As First Lady, I convened the inaugural conference on Latino Children and Youth, to make sure that Latino boys and girls were getting the same opportunities as any other child. As a senator, I co-sponsored the Dream Act three times and stood with Ted Kennedy in our fight to pass comprehensive immigration reform. As president, I’m committed to seeing this fight through to the finish line.

No matter what Donald Trump says, we have always been a nation of immigrants. Families like Josie’s and Karla’s are every bit as American as his or mine. And it is long past time we helped millions of hard-working people step out of the shadows and onto a path to a brighter future.

This commentary first appeared in the Arizona Republic at: