Hillary Clinton calls for path to citizenship for illegal immigrants

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Former first lady and prospective Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has called for a 'full and equal' path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US.

During a visit to Rancho high school in Las Vegas, Nevada, Clinton not only promised to support President Barack Obama's executive actions to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, but she vowed to expand on this so enabling more immigrants to stay in the US legally and apply for work visas.

Hillary promises to protect parents of DREAMers

In particular, Clinton wants to extend executive actions to the parents of DREAMers who currently have benefitted from deferred action for childhood arrivals [relief from deportation]. DREAMers are young, undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children or young teenagers.

To qualify DREAMers need to have high school degrees or be currently attending a high school. They are allowed to apply for deferred action and a work permit. Since 2001 none of the various versions of the DREAM Act have been passed. In June 2012 Obama introduced the "Deferred action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA) which provided two year renewable work permits for "DREAMers".

Obama's wished to take things further and under executive actions, proposed in 2014 and on hold because of a lawsuit over whether it is constitutional, would permit those who had arrived in the US as children, regardless of current age, to apply for relief from deportation, provided that applicants had a high school degree, or were attending a high school.

Clinton's proposed immigration reforms under executive action would also extend to parents of US citizens and permanent residents who have been in the US for five years. However, Obama's administration stopped short of expanding executive actions to parents of DREAMers, whereas Clinton has promised to help them as well.

During a discussion with six, young Latino residents of Nevada at Rancho high school Clinton said: "There are more people like many parents of DREAMers and others with deep ties and contributions to our communities who deserve to stay, and I will fight for them."

With approximately 27 percent of the Nevada population being Hispanic, Clinton is hoping that her visit and pro immigration stance will encourage Latinos to vote for her. The comments made during the discussion group were certainly well received by the six young Latinos present.

Some of the discussion participants at Rancho high school were also unauthorized immigrants, or had parents who are undocumented.

Why does it matter to Clinton to have the Latinos onside?

According to US political commentators, previous election campaigns show that it's much easier for a Democratic candidate to encourage a high Latino vote when promising to push the issue of immigration reform. Commentators say that Clinton will need the Latino vote to win the 2016 US election.

Democrat Hilary Clinton compared to Republicans

Hillary Clinton's stance she says is different to those in the Republican Party; 'we can't wait forever for a path to full and equal citizenship', she said.

Commenting on the Republicans, Clinton said: "Be in no doubt, not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential is clearly and consistently backing a path to citizenship. Whenever Republicans refer to 'legal status', it's code for second-class status."

Long-time advocate of immigrants

In closing the discussion, Clinton was adamant that she had long been a supporter of immigration, but did admit to failing in building a path to citizenship when serving in the US Senate. She ended by saying: "Despite my failings in the US Senate, there's no doubt where I stand on the issue of immigration reform."