Representative Luis Gutierrez and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro are standing with Hillary and strengthening today, just two days before the Nevada caucuses. Castro and Gutierrez are some of the most recognizable Latino leaders, and they reaffirmed their belief that Hillary would be the candidate most likely to support legislation to help Latino immigrants and that Bernie’s voting record on immigration is a concern.
“He really set us back, you might say, a decade by not supporting us on the immigration bill in 2007,” said Huerta, a who led the United Farm Workers alongside Cesar Chavez in the 1960s. “His reputation as being a super liberal, many people followed his guide on that. That was just a devastating blow for all of us who were fighting for immigration reform and for immigrants’ rights,” said Gutierrez.
Castro agreed and mentioned an appearance in 2007 that Bernie made on Lou Dobbs’ television show. Dobbs is the former Fox News host who was heavily criticized for his views on undocumented immigrants and employers who hire them.
“(Dobbs) became notorious for his angry rants against illegal aliens.’ But Dobbs reserved a special venom for the employers who hire them, railing against ‘the employer who is so shamelessly exploiting the illegal alien and so shamelessly flouting US law’ and even proposing, on one April 2006 show, that ‘illegal employers who hire illegal aliens’ should face felony charges.”
In 2007, Sanders cited the impact the bill would have on American workers’ wages as his reason for voting against it. Today, Sanders also says that he opposed the bill because of its guest-worker provisions that would allow for exploitation of undocumented immigrants. Sanders was asked about his vote on the 2007 immigration bill during a recent town hall meeting.
“I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it, which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they’re working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they’re thrown out of the country. I was not the only progressive to vote against that legislation for that reason. Tom Harkin, a very good friend of Hillary Clinton’s and mine, one of the leading labor advocates, also voted against that.”
He added, “Progressives did vote against that for that reason. My view right now — and always has been — is that when you have 11 million undocumented people in this country, we need comprehensive immigration reform, we need a path toward citizenship, we need to take people out of the shadows.”
With the Nevada caucuses looming, Gutierrez’s and Castro’s support of Hillary could factor heavily in its results. Approximately fifteen percent of Nevada caucus-goers are Latino. During the same call to reporters in which Gutierrez and Castro repeated their long-time support of Hillary Clinton, Cristobal Alex also announced the endorsement of Clinton by Latino Victory Fund, a super-PAC that is an extension of the Latino Victory Project dedicated to getting Latino candidates in office and bringing Latinos to the polls.
The controversy over immigration may be spelling big trouble for the Democratic Senator from Vermont in Nevada and other states in which Latino voters comprise a significant portion of the voting population.