POLITICS

Hillary Clinton Vows To Create An Office Dedicated To Helping Immigrants

Its focus would be improving services that don't require sweeping policy reforms.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she is the best choice for those who want to help immigrants. 
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she is the best choice for those who want to help immigrants. 

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced on Wednesday that she will do something new as president: create a national office dedicated to immigrants and refugees.

She unveiled her plan for an Office of Immigrant Affairs while receiving an endorsement from immigrant rights group the New York State Immigrant Action fund.

Clinton and opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are campaigning heavily in New York ahead of its primary next week. Immigration is a big issue there -- New York City is home to more than 3 million immigrants -- and both candidates have criticized each other's bona fides on the issue.

Much of the conversation has focused on immigration reform. Clinton's plan is notable in that it focuses on services for immigrants and refugees that the federal government can coordinate without Congress or sweeping changes using executive authority.

At the event Wednesday morning, Clinton called integration "an issue that cuts across all levels of government, federal, state, and local." Her campaign said the new office would "ensure there is a dedicated place in the White House where integration services for immigrants and refugees are managed." 

Clinton said the first-ever Office of Immigrant Affairs "would build on the work of the Obama administration's task force, and create a dedicated place in the White House to coordinate immigration policies across the federal government and with state and local government as well." 

President Barack Obama established the White House Task Force on New Americans in 2014 to examine how to best coordinate efforts on the local, state and national level to help immigrants, from providing services to encouraging them to apply for citizenship.

The task force recommended that the federal government encourage localities to create their own plans for integrating immigrants, with assistance from AmeriCorps VISTA service members. It also recommended ways to encourage more immigrants to seek citizenship, including grant funding for citizenship preparation classes. The task force said the federal government should help immigrant workers by ensuring they know their labor rights and encouraging entrepreneurship, and should give immigrants of all ages better access to language classes.

New York City and state each have their own offices dedicated to immigrant issues, many of them particularly pro-immigrant, such as the city's municipal ID cards that are open to undocumented immigrants.

Clinton is ahead in the polls in New York -- HuffPost Pollster averages of available surveys put her at about 52 percent and Sanders at 40 percent -- and Sanders has been going after her on immigration. His campaign held a call with reporters on Tuesday castigating Clinton for opposing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in New York during her 2008 bid for president, while she was a senator from the state. She has since reversed that position.

Clinton, meanwhile, has continued to call out Sanders for his vote against comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. He supported a separate reform effort in 2013.

This article was updated after Clinton officially announced her plan. 

HuffPost

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