Boy, is it ever. And the relationship between the all-but-certain 2016 presidential candidate and America’s largest minority—and arguably its most important group of swing voters—was made even more complicated recently when Clinton stampeded into the delicate immigration debate.
In an exchange that likely made many of her Latino supporters wince, Clinton wound up showing more sympathy toward President Obama for finding new and creative ways to deport 2 million people in five and a half years than she did toward the tens of thousands of Central American children who have, since 2011, streamed across the U.S.-Mexico border trying to escape gang violence back home and hoping to obtain the equivalent of Willie Wonka’s golden ticket—a permiso(permission slip) that allows the holder to remain in the United States. There is no such thing, of course, but the desperate tend to see things that aren’t there.
Clinton would no doubt have preferred to avoid the entire mess, but the pressure of helping one’s publisher earn back its advance tends to put people in situations where they have to do things they wouldn’t normally do. In a desperate bid to help the lackluster sales of her new book, Hard Choices, for which she was reportedly paid as much as $14 million, Clinton agreed to be the centerpiece of a special CNN Town Hall graciously intended to promote the book. The moderator was CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
At one point, Francisco Gonzalez, a professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University, took note of President Obama’s record of removing undocumented immigrants en masse and splitting up families with such speed and efficiency that, as Gonzales acknowledged, many Hispanics now refer to Obama as the “deporter-in-chief.” Gonzalez wanted to know what Clinton would do differently.
That was the softball lobbed over the plate, with the hope that Clinton would knock it out of the park by portraying herself as a kinder and gentler Democrat. Instead, she fouled out by trying to defend Obama and downplay the deportation crisis.
Clinton said that it was her understanding that “the numbers have been moderating in part as the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement officials understood that separating children from families...is just not who we are as Americans.”
That comment did not go over well with the immigration advocacy group, United We Dream, which released a statement saying that Clinton’s remarks were “at odds with the realities faced by too many of our families” and demanding that Clinton pressure Obama to stop his deportation juggernaut.
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