As the Democratic presidential campaign shifted to Nevada on Saturday, Bernie Sanders moved to cut into Hillary Clinton’s support among Latino voters, repeating his call to overhaul the nation’s immigration policies and telling an undocumented immigrant he would “do everything that I humanly can” to prevent her from living in fear.
Once expected to go easily to Clinton, the race in Nevada has appeared to grow tighter in recent weeks. Following contests in the predominately white states of Iowa and New Hampshire, it now stands out as a test of the durability of Clinton’s longstanding support among nonwhite voters.
Latinos make up about a quarter of Nevada’s voting-age population, and black people account for almost 9 percent.
As Clinton visited with workers in a break room at Harrah’s Las Vegas on Saturday, Sanders lamented the disproportionate number of black and Latino Americans incarcerated in the United States, and he cast himself as a champion of immigration policy changes.
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“Count me in as somebody who will lead the effort for comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship,” the Vermont senator told a few hundred supporters at a rally here. “And to the degree that Congress does not do the job that it is supposed to do, then we will use the executive powers of the White House.”
Later, at a forum across town, Aracelia Mendoza, an undocumented immigrant living in Reno, asked Sanders what he would do for her and her 10-year-old son, a United States citizen.
“I am constantly living with fear, because I know at any moment I can be separated from my son and lose everything I have earned, and my family will be torn apart like many other families,” she said. “Senator Sanders, my question to you is: What would you do if you had the opportunity to fix the system?”
Sanders replied, “I will do everything that I humanly can as president to make sure that you do not continue living in fear.”
I will do everything that I humanly can as president to make sure that you do not continue living in fear.
Bernie Sanders, speaking to an undocumented immigrant
Sanders’ promise to pursue immigration policy changes and to act by executive order, if necessary, does not differ significantly from Clinton’s position. She said at an appearance in Las Vegas last year that she would “go even further” than President Barack Obama to stop the deportation of immigrants in the country illegally.
Acknowledging the challenges observers expected him to face in Nevada, Sanders said he was initially discounted in Iowa and New Hampshire, too.
“We’re going to surprise them here in Nevada,” he said.