Clinton, Sanders Promise Not to Deport Illegals Who Don't Have 'Criminal Record'

By Susan Jones | March 10, 2016 | 5:39 AM EST
Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, shake hands before the start of the Univision, Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(CNSNews.com) - Using the exact same words, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders said they "will not deport children" -- or most other illegal immigrants -- from the USA.

In fact, both candidates said they are willing to go further than President Obama has gone to keep more illegal aliens in the country.

At another debate Wednesday night, this one hosted by The Washington Post and Univision, Clinton said she has been "consistent and committed to comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship" for many years. She also promised to introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship in the first 100 days of her presidency.

Clinton said she's committed to "defending" DAPA and DACA, President Obama's temporary amnesty for millions of children and parents who are in this country illegally. "I'm committed to going even further to get more people deferred action, to go as far as I can under the law," Clinton said.

(Republicans say the law does not allow President Obama to go as far as he has gone, and the Supreme Court is now considering Obama's attempt to give temporary work permits and Social Security numbers to millions of illegal immigrants.)

Clinton urged the debate audience to "imagine where we would be today if we had achieved comprehensive immigration reform nine years ago. Imagine how much more secure families would be in our country, no longer fearing the deportation of a loved one; no longer fearing that they would be found out."

Pressing Clinton on the issue, moderator Jorge Ramos asked Clinton, "Can you promise tonight that you won't deport children and that you won't deport immigrants who don't have a criminal record?

"Yes," Clinton said. She said she would like to see asylum laws changed so undocumented children are guaranteed legal counsel and other support.

"But if you are asking about everyone who is already here, undocumented immigrants, the 11-12 million who are living here, my priorities are to deport violent criminals, terrorists, and anyone who threatens our safety," Clinton said. "So I do not have the same policy as the current administration does. I think it's important that we move to our comprehensive immigration reform, but at the same time, stop the raids, stop the round-ups, stop the deporting of people who are living here doing their lives, doing their jobs, and that's my priority."

Even that wasn't enough for Ramos, who followed up by asking, "But again, yes or no, can you promise tonight that you won't deport children, children who are already here?"

"I will not deport children. I would not deport children. I do not want to deport family members either, Jorge. I want to, as I said, prioritize who would be deported: violent criminals, people planning terrorist attacks, anybody who threatens us. That's a relatively small universe."

Ramos again: "So you are telling us tonight that if you become president you won't deport children who are already here?"

"I will not," Clinton said.

"And that you won't deport immigrants who don't have a criminal record?" he asked.

"That's what I'm telling you," Clinton responded. "Of the people, the undocumented people living in our country, I do not want to see them deported. I want to see them on a path to citizenship. That is exactly what I will do," she said.

Sanders also defended his stance of immigration:

"And what I believe right now is not only that we need comprehensive immigration reform, if the Congress does not do its job, as president of the United States I will use the executive powers of that office to do what has to be done, to do what President Obama did, and expand on that."

He noted that Honduras is one of the most violence places in the western hemisphere, and he supports the children who try to flee such violence.

"So to answer your question, no, I will not deport children from the United States of America," Sanders said.

"And can you promise not to deport immigrants who don't have a criminal record?" Ramos asked.

"I can make that promise," Sanders said.

"Now I happen to agree with President Obama on many, many issues. I think he has done a great job as president of the United States. He is wrong on this issue of deportation. I disagree with him on that."