Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hillary and the Latino vote

Several stories today discuss Hillary Clinton's speech at the National Council of La Raza conference in Philadelphia. The Washington Post describes her campaign-like speech that got a great response from the crowd, the NY Daily News has her squaring off with Ed. Secretary Margaret Spelling over the achievement gap among Latino high school students (they both agreed that younger students are doing better and that the dropout rate needs to be addressed urgently), and the Philadelphia Inquirer has her slamming Bush (though not by name) for not doing enough for Latino families.

I posted a while back about Hillary's turn to the right on immigration - she made some rather big waves when she said she was "adamantly against illegal immigrants" - (while it is always important to remember that Latino issues are not necessarily about immigration, her comments at the NCLR conference show how the issues are really intertwined). But Hillary's recent speech, and a little more research, show that her stance on immigration is much more complex.

She is a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act (a stance she reiterated in her speech in Philly), the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill and AgJobs, a great bill for farm workers that was killed by Republican leadership earlier this year. She also called for the federal government to reimburse hospitals for providing free care to immigrants in the speech. But she didn't take a stand on the REAL ID Act (an anti-immigrant bill that will dramatically overhaul the country's driver's license system and which is now receiving a barrage of criticism from more than a few governors). Hillary seems to be staking out a middle ground on immigration by supporting sensible, moderate immigration reform (if you can call being adamantly against illegal immigrants as somewhere in the middle) while calling for an increased government role in protecting Latinos.

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