CLINTON: Oh, hello. Hi, how are you? Well, it’s wonderful to be back in Nevada and here at Rancho. I am delighted to be joined by a number of young people who are going to talk with me and all of you about their lives, their stories, and in particular immigration.
I want to acknowledge my friend and Congresswoman Dina Titus. Thank you so much for being here. And it is Cinco de Mayo, so that’s especially appropriate day for us to be having this conversation.
I want to begin by thanking everyone at Rancho High School for hosting us today. I’m looking forward to hearing from each of our panel participants. I have a lot of wonderful memories from my time here in Nevada. I’ve gone door to door meeting with families not far from the school.
I’ve met with a lot of culinary workers and other workers who keep the economy going strong. I accompany the registered nurse on 12-hour shift at St. Rose Dominican Hospital and then was very pleased to go back to her home and have dinner with her and her kids.
And I know how hard hits Nevadans work by the great recession. This date in particular suffered some very tough blows. There were a much higher than average home for closure rate for example, a lot of people lost their jobs or their hours or cut dramatically which made it more difficult for them to continue to make a good living.
We now see that this state is coming back from those top economic times. Families have found a lot of different ways to make it work for them. We also saw people once again starting businesses, thinking about sending their kids to college. Maybe doing some home repairs, maybe putting a little bit aside for retirement. But we’re not yet back on our feet.
We have certainly climbed out of the hole we were in, but now we’ve got to do more than just get by. We have to get ahead and stay ahead.
And there are a lot of ways that we have to think about how we do that together. I think that it’s important to recognize that even with all of the hard work and sacrifices so many families made, in many ways, the deck is stacked in favor of those at the top. And I’m well aware that in Las Vegas there is nothing worse than a stacked deck.
I want to reshuffle the deck. I want to be a champion for hard-working Americans. I want to work across party lines. I want to work with the public and the private sector. I want people to get back to the good old-fashioned American style of problem solving and setting us on back the right course.
Now, to help reshuffle the deck, people have to do their part. They have to, you know, step up and take education seriously. They have to be willing to work hard because nothing is given to you. My dad was a small businessman and when I say that he was a really small businessman, you know, just a few day workers from time to time. My mom, my brothers and I, but he understood hard work was the path forward in the United States. He made a good living for our family and I will forever be grateful for that. Because when families are strong, America is strong. And I am convinced having thought for families going all the way back to my years in law school and ever since, there is nothing more important.
Now in this campaign, I think we have to wage and win four big fights. One is to build the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday. And that means we’ve got to be really focused on what is going to prepare young people and we have to start early. Education is the key. But education in the first years of life is essential. Because now we know that brain development really has formed by the time a child is three or four. So, we’ve got to do more to make sure every child has the best chance to do well in school, to get ahead, to charge his or her own future, to live up to his or her own God-given potential.
It’s also essential that we strengthen families and communities and that’s means we have to finally once and for all fix our immigration system. This is a family issue. It’s an economic issue, too.
But it is at heart a family issue at. And if we claim that we are for families, we have to pull together and resolve the outstanding issues around our broken immigration system. The American people support comprehensive immigration reform, not just because it’s the right thing to do, and it is, but because they know it strengthens families, strengthens our economy, and strengthens our country. That’s why we can’t wait any longer. We can’t wait any longer for a path to fall and equal citizenship.
Now this is where i differ with everybody on the republican side. Make no mistakes, today not a single republican candidate announced or potential is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one.
When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status. And we should never forget who this debate is about and you’re going to meet some of them in just a minute. People who work hard, who love this country, who pay taxes to it and wants nothing more than to build a good future for themselves and their children.
We’re talking about the young people at this table. They are dreamers in much more than name. They are kids that any parents or grandparent would be proud of. And I don’t understand how anyone can look at these young people and think we should break up more families, or turn away more hard workers with talent to help us build the kind of country we all want to see.
So, I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for your family across our country. I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put dreamers, including those with us today, at risk of deportation. And if Congress continues to refuse to act as president, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further.
There are more people, like many parents have dreamers, and others, with deep ties and contributions to our communities, who deserve a chance to stay and i will fight for them.
The law currently allows for sympathetic cases to be reviewed but right now most of these cases have no way to get a real hearing. Therefore, we should put in place a simple, straightforward, accessible way for parents of dreamers and others with a history of service and contribution to their communities, to make their case and to be eligible for the same deferred action as their children. But that’s just the beginning. There’s much more to do to expand and enhance protections for families and communities to reform immigration and enforcement and detention practices, so they are more humane, targeted, and effective. And to keep building the pressure and support for comprehensive reform.
You know, our personal basis, the first time I ever met anyone who was in our country working was when I was about 12 years old, as I recall. And through my church, I was recruited, along with some other girls in our Sunday school class to serve as babysitters on Saturday for the small children, so the older children could join their parents in the fields because believe it or not when I was growing up in the Chicago area, it was farm field as far as the eye could see. And the migrants, immigrant laborer would come up, through the Texas up through Midwest, up to Chicago, then up to Michigan. And we were asked to try to help out.
I remember going to the camp where the families lived and taking care of the little kids, while kids at my age were doing really hard work.
And what stuck in my mind was how at the end of the day there was a long road from in the camp that went out to a kind of dirt road in the middle of the fields. And the bus that had the workers from the field down it that came back around 4:00, 5:00 in the afternoon, stopped and let off the parents and the older brothers and sisters and all these little kids started running down the path to see their moms and dads and their big brothers and sisters. And they were scooped up by these really, really tired people.
And I just watched this and I thought, they’re just like me and my brothers. You know, when my dad comes home from work, and we go out to see him. After he has come back from his day of doing what he had to do to help support us. I’ve never gotten that experience to the image out of my mind.
And so, for me, this is about what kind of people we are and what kind of country we have. And I am actually convinced this is in our economic interest. It’s in the interest of our values and it’s even in the interest of our long-term security as a nation. So, you know, where I stand. And there can be no question about it because I will do everything I can, as president, and during this campaign, to make this case.
I know there are people who disagree with me but I want them to have a conversation with me. Because the facts are really clear. You know, we know how much people who are working hard contribute to our economy, both in what they buy and what they pay in Texas. In fact in New York, which I know a little bit about because I representative for eight years and I lived there now, our undocumented workers in New York pay more in taxes than some of the biggest corporations in New York. So, I’m ready to have this discussion with anybody, anywhere, any time.
But let me turn to the people who are living this story. I want you to meet them. I want you to hear from them. And I’m going to start with you, Asther , if you will introduce yourself, and talk about your own life and what brings you to the table today.
SILVA: Thank you, secretary. My name is Asther Silva. I am currently a student at the Nevada State College pursuing my degree in history with thesis in pre-law. I arrived in United States when I was four years old. And Nevada has been my home since I was five. I came here with my mom and dad. I had a younger brother here. He is a United States citizen.
Fortunately, our family was scammed when I was very young. And because of that my father was given a deportation order. And so know, he’s in order of deportation.
CLINTON: He was scammed because you hired a lawyer to help you?
SILVA: Yes. Well, it wasn’t a lawyer. It was [inaudible] who took advantage of the fact that, you know, there was a lot of different immigration programs in the 1990s and people did not understand the differences. And so because of that, in 2001, my father was given deportation order that was not acted on until 2011. So our family in those 10 years did not know he been had that order deportation.
Right now, thankfully, because of prior to your discussion, my dad has state of removal so he will qualify for the different action program once the lawsuit that’s really an obstacle right now is moved out of the way. And my mom will who is here, she will be able to apply so that we’re not afraid that she will be deported.
CLINTON: And talk to me a little bit about what you have done in school. How you see your future. The contributions you have already made as a young person and what you would like to do further.
SILVA: Growing up, I was really dedicated to school. My parents, they put a really big emphasis on me succeeding because of all the sacrifices they had made. They had not seen their family in 25 years.
And so when I went to elementary school, middle school, I was really—I was dedicated. In seventh grade, I was named the gladiator of the year at my middle school because I was the student that showed—ironically the most citizenship. And so just programs like that, but I could not take advantage of them because when once I turned the age of going to college, I couldn’t have a way out.
I was afraid for many years until finally a counselor at my college, at the college at College of Southern Nevada at that time knew what was happening and helped guide me and I became involved in politics. And knowing that I didn’t have to be afraid from myself because there was something, and I met other people that we’re in the same situation as myself, which is something that never happened before.
CLINTON: Erica—that his mom. Part of our jobs as mom is to embarrass our children at any possible moment, but also when we’re proud of them to show that pride. So, I’m happy that they’re there.
Erica, how did you end up here with us today?
ERICA: I’m here to basically share my story. I came to the United States when I was two years old. My parents and I made the journey here after we lost my little sister. They basically wanted to give me a better future. I now have a 17-year-old brother. He’s a U.S. citizen. And now with my parents would qualify if the lawsuit was lifted.
I’m currently going to CFS. I want to major in political science and psychology. And I’m just here wondering what are your plans to help my community and help my family and help us not to live in fear anymore?
CLINTON: Yes. Now that’s why I think it so important that we continue to try to change the laws comprehensively. But as I have said numerous times, I support the president’s action in the face of in action.
I was personally very disappointed that when I was a senator for eight years, we had a few chances to try to do more for dreamers, do more for comprehensive immigration reform, and we were not successful.
And then when I was Secretary of State, I was very pleased that there was bipartisan agreement in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And it was such a good signal that Democrats and Republicans can work together, could solve a difficult problem, could put aside partisan differences. And the Senate passed it and the House of Representatives would never take it up.
And I think it would have passed if they had taken it up. But I think that they—the leadership in the House decided that politically they didn’t want to do that because they had people who were strongly opposed to comprehensive immigration reform.
But I think we have to keep working on it. And that is why your stories are so important because we can’t look at it as though it is some kind of abstraction. It’s real people’s lives and so many people who have made contributions, who have worked hard in school, who have started businesses, who have raised their children here.
And as you point out in your family, you have a brother who is a U.S. citizen. So it’s—we have a lot of these blended families and I want to do more to make sure that Doca and Dapa and all of the changes that have occurred continue and even expand. I would like to try to do more on behalf of the parents of dreamers who are not necessarily included. But the best way is to get the comprehensive immigration reform in our Congress and try to resolve all of this.
UNKNOWN: I’m 26 years. And I have been here since I was one year old. I graduated this summer with a degree in psychology and criminal justice. And unfortunately, when I was 15 years old, both my parents and I we received orders for deportation. And since that day we have lived in fear.
Thankfully, because of the production I have some relief, but unfortunately, I can’t do the same thing from my parents. Unless the lawsuit again, stop or is dropped, my parents’ future isn’t secure here in United States. And as a current documented immigrant here in the United States, I stand for me with the 50,000 undocumented transgender immigrants in this country who lack resources to get any legal representation to file within the one-year Deadline for asylum.
So my question, Secretary Clinton, is would you lift the one-year deadline for asylum-seekers?
CLINTON: Well, I think there’s several things about that question that I’d like to answer of. One is I think that people in the immigration system should be represented. And we have made some progress on that, but not enough. And so I am in favor, particularly for young people, to have representation.
I’d like everyone to have it. But if we have to, you know, try to prioritize, I would like young people, I would like people from vulnerable populations, who would otherwise not have the support that they need. And I don’t think there’s anything magic about the one-year. I think that as part of comprehensive reform, we need to look at how we make our entire system more humane.
I also—I’m very worried about detention and detention facilities for people who are vulnerable, and four children, that I think we could do a better job if we kept detention to people who have a record of violence, illegal behavior and that we have a different approach toward people who are not in that category. And I don’t think we should put, you know, children and vulnerable people into big detention facilities because I think they are at risk. I think that their physical and mental health are at risk.
So, these are issues that we should go as far as we can to get the resources to provide support and particularly representation and change some of our detention processes within the kind of discretion that I think the president has exercised with his executive orders. But it’s also clear as the president has said many times a lot of these issues can only be resolved once and for all if we have changes in the law.
So, I want to protect people. I want more humane treatment. No matter how the law currently is written or how it’s enforced. And to put the resources behind doing that and then continue to fight for comprehensive reform. Thank you. Wanda
UNKNOWN: Thank you, Secretary Clinton for being here and hearing our story and welcome to Nevada.
CLINTON: Thank you.
UNKNOWN: I arrived to the United States when I was seven months old. Nevada is the only place I call home. And I grew up here. I went to school here. I graduate in University of Nevada [inaudible] with two degrees here, education as you’ve mentioned earlier is one of our strong points as dreamers.
And because of it, I’m looking at pursuing a law degree. But, again, the system of immigration messes up my family. [inaudible] in our family.
I come from a mixed status family. Meaning my sister is a U.S. citizen who petitioned from my father to change the legal status, and he became a legal permanent resident. When we planned to do the same for my mother, unfortunately, she faces the three tenure bar. Because of it, it was either make the decision to have her either separate our family or keep our family together. And a strong message in the immigration community is keeping our families together, and that is the path what we took.
UNKNOWN: Unfortunately, she continues to be undocumented. I have—and what the president executive action, she will qualify for [inaudible], thankfully, but unfortunately with the lawsuit we—it’s another obstacle in the way.
CLINTON: Wanda could you explain for people who might not know what the three and 10 rule is because it causes a lot of these issues.
UNKNOWN: Of course. For example, my mother and I, we entered—the term—legal term enter by infection but we use the term the illegally. My father in his case entered with a work permit. So, he entered legally. And because of it, we faced a 3 to 10 year bar because we way we entered to our journey. We took a different way compared to my father.
So because of it, we face 3-10 year bar, we would have to leave our country. We tried to do it the right way undocumented community. But we had to leave the country for 3 to 10 years as a pardon for entering illegally into the country.
CLINTON: Well, I think your example illustrates the difficulties of these rules that are applied to everybody under every circumstance without looking at the underlying situation. And you have a sister who is a citizen. You have a father who is now a legal permanent resident. You came here at seven months and you have done extremely well with your education, and you’re obviously a very committed young person. And your mother, who kept the family going as moms do would have to leave for the 3 to 10-year period in order to be able to petition for reentry and therefore be determined as legal.
That’s why I have promoted, ever since, you know, we’ve been having this debate, going back to when I was in the senate, a comprehensive immigration reform program, similar to what the Senate passed on a bipartisan basis, where the people who have been here and people who have as your family has, you know, contributed and worked hard, you would have, you know, pay a fine. You’d probably, you know, we’d want you to learn English which is not a problem before anybody around this table. And we would, you know, want you to, you know, get in line to get a path to citizenship but you’d be no longer at risk of being deported and you would not have to leave the country for 3 to 10 years in order to be able to try to come back in.
So, I think there are—there’s agreement among the people who supported the bipartisan bill in the Senate even though—I guess some of them are paying a political price for it right now, nevertheless, it was the right thing that they may get it, it is still the right thing.
Because we have gained so much from people who—like your families have come here and work hard and made a contribution. So, thank you for explaining that and it shows how difficult it is in so many families to be able to figure out what to do.
And Juan, you have an interesting story because you are a one of those small businessmen. You know, I said the other day I wan to be the president for small business because that’s where most jobs created and that’s where I think the real engine of economic recovery and growth comes from. So, why don’t you tell us what you’ve been doing?
UNKNOWN: My name is Juan Salazar. I’m 22 years old. I came here when I was seven when I was young. I grew up here. This is all I know, the place I called home. And I’m undocumented. I struggled when I get—it hit me when I got out of high school. It was hard to find a job.
In high school, I found my friends were getting these jobs or getting their drivers license becoming more independent. You know, I got left behind.
But—fortunately, thanks to DACA, I was able to get a work permit and I’ll tell you—and I could tell us pick from all of us undocumented or immigrant. I did not take no opportunity for granted. We don’t take an opportunities for granted and I feel like we don’t get those a lot. And right away I went to go get my business license and—to—I have my own pool cleaning service. So my own company and me and my [inaudible]. And we started off with three pools. And I got my business license. I went to get certified. And, you know, to promote my name and everything.
And you know, two or three years later, now, we have over 50 pools. And, you know, I am growing as to [inaudible]. I make sure that I work hard because when we didn’t have anything, when my dad lost his job, when the decision hit, we lost our house. We didn’t have work. We had to sell food to pay the phone bills. And, you know, I was the only going way up from there.
And we’re working hard every day. And, you know, I’m only learning through the struggles that we’ve been through, and taking it step-by-step.
CLINTON: I’m very proud to hear your story. Of course, I mean, let’s face it, you can clean pools all year round in Nevada. We have a shorter season where I live. But the fact that, you know, you and your dad really were determined to recover from losing your home, losing his job, and just doing what you had to do to be as successful as possible, is the American story.
I mean that is what is so moving to me about what happened to you.
UNKNOWN: Yes. And, you know, I felt—at least [inaudible] for once I got the [inaudible]. I got my work’s permit, but I cannot say the same thing for my parents because they don’t qualify for that type of—because, you know, we are all undocumented. So it was just, you know, I’m happy for the ones who were able to. But now they have a speed bump because…
UNKNOWN: … they’ve got to slow down now. And I just want to make sure my parents are protected [inaudible] any minute. And I would not wish that on anybody.
UNKNOWN: Our family separated that far. So, you know, right here in Nevada, 21 percent of the business are owned by immigrants. So we are making a lot of—we are moving up here and we’re making a difference. All we want is work and, you know, provide for our families. And we’re very united—me and my family. So…
CLINTON: That’s great. Well, I think that you put an important statistic, which is nationally, not just in Nevada, so many of the new small businesses are started by immigrants. And that’s something we should be celebrating, not trying to prevent or breakup, because of status differences.
And also on the fact that you’re so worried about your parents. I mean I will certainly try to do everything I can to, you know, avoid family breakup, avoid the kind of terrible experience that too many families have already gone through, because they were split up. And half of their family, or the breadwinner in their family, you know, picked up and gone one day.
So that’s just—it’s not smart and it’s not right. Do you want to share your story?
UNKNOWN: My name is [inaudible]. I am 16 years old. I’m a junior and went to high school. It’s either medical minor program. I arrived in this country at the age of two. And since then, I thank the dedication of my parents. I have been able to succeed in school. I have…
UNKNOWN: Currently, as a junior, I continue and start to look towards my future. But once I began to look at what I have in my future, there is not a lot open. I mean, yes, think that guy could go to school, but afterwards, what is there for me? Like, I want to be a doctor. I want to go to Yale.
UNKNOWN: But, after Yale, I can’t really become a doctor since my lack of [inaudible]
CLINTON: well, I think should brag on you. You may be a junior but you have the highest grade point average in the whole class, right? And I think one of your counselors told me it was 4.8. I didn’t even know they went that high.
So you are exactly the kind of student that every family—that every community should be proud of. And the idea that you want to be a doctor is something we should be encouraging and trying to clear the path so you can go on and do that. Tell me about your family. What happened with the rest of your family?
UNKNOWN: My—both of my parents also arrived as undocumented.
UNKNOWN: So I —and they were both depending on DACA. My specifically, he bright future to open up his own mechanic shop which he could be currently a mechanic. And with that, he would be able to expand his business. However, since the delay he really can’t.
CLINTON: Well, I think it’s important to, you know, put faces behind the stories. Several of you have mentioned how the lawsuit tried to prevent the implementation of President Obama’s executive order has really stopped the plan—stopped plans for new businesses, stopped plans for going to school, or what you’re going to do when you graduate just creating more uncertainty.
And that is what you are describing with respect to your father. Yes. You know, I think that certainty is really important, predictability, regularization, if you will. People need to know what’s going to happen. And it is just unrealistic, and I think, foolish to continue to talk as though we’re going to deport 11 million or 12 million people. That is not going to happen.
And so, when you accept the fact that is not going to happen…
CLINTON: … right? I once calculated when I was in the Senate how much money it would cost, how many buses would be required. I mean it’s just, you know, it’s beyond absurd. That’s not going to happen. So then, what we have to do is accept the fact we are a nation of immigrants. It always have been. I think it was Franklin Roosevelt who might have said that we started off as a nation of revolutionaries and immigrants. And that has continued throughout our history.
So we have to solve the issues that are around this situation that we are faced with. And the facts are really clear about the contributions, the economic consumer contributions, the paying of taxes contributions, and then the young people who work hard and are looking for a place in society.
So I know that you each have had very personal experiences. And now is your chance to maybe say what you think should be done and how it should be done so that we have, you know, a debate that is about the realities, not about, you know, the talking points and the arguments. Esther , would you like to start?
UNKNOWN: Well, secretary, I think one of the most important things for us is family unification. As you mentioned, 11 million people could not be deported. However, millions have already been deported.
We have here with us Victoria. She’s also a dreamer who received DACA. She hasn’t seen her mother in four years because they had to go back to Mexico for an emergency. And on the way back, her mother was unfortunately—broke her leg on the journey back to the United States. And Victoria came here alone. So she’s been with a guardian for the past four years.
And to me, one of the questions is what will happen to those families who’ve already been separated? Thankfully, I go to bed every night and, you know, I live in the fear that my parents will be deported, but they’re still here.
UNKNOWN: I can talk to them and I can see them. You know, and I think all of our stories have very complex issues where Juan working and his family’s also makes status family all tired of it. You know, we all have siblings which two to three to 10 year bar. Our parents would qualify for adjustment. Unfortunately, that’s still in place.
So my question is a little bit expanding on several of those issues.
CLINTON: Yes. No, I think that reunification should be one of our goals in Comprehensive Immigration Reform because, you know, we have attempted to deal with this challenge for years now and in the absence of actually finally passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform, a lot of families have been broken up.
And that’s just really so painful for people who live through it, but even for those of us on the outside looking at it to even imagine what that must be like. And that’s why I want to do everything we can to defend the president’s executive orders because I think they were certainly within his authority. Constitutionally, legally, they were based on precedent that I believe is adequate. And then, still try to go further and deal with some of these other issues, like the reunification of families that were here and that have been split up since the last eight, 10, 12 years. Yes.
UNKNOWN: For me, if there’s 276,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants here in the United States, around 15 to 50 of them are trans. So as a lesbian woman, I’d like to know how we can protect our trans brothers and sisters from being put into institutions where they don’t identify with their gender identity?
CLINTON: Well, that’s what Rafael was also referring to earlier. And look I think that we have to do more to provide safe environments for vulnerable populations. And that certainly includes the LGBT community, also includes children, and it includes unaccompanied children. There are just a—there are groups of people who I think we deserve a higher level of care, because of the situations that they are finding themselves in.
I also think that we have to reform our detention system. I’ve, you know, I’m not sure a lot of Americans know that a lot of the detention facilities for immigrants are run by private companies and that they have a built in incentive to fill them up, that there is actually a legal requirement that so many beds be filled. So people go out and round up people in order to get paid on a per bed basis. I mean that just makes no sense at all to me. I mean that’s not the way we should be running any detention facility.
So I think there is a lot we have to do to change what is currently happening and to try to put us on a path toward a better, fairer, or more humane system for everybody. Yes.
UNKNOWN: I think our court ability is a major factor. Many undocumented immigrants have been exploited. Personally, my parents were actually exploited. When they were at—to this country, they had to work for $2 an hour. That was actually in 1990.
I also think that since many of these—many of our parents have actually, you know, had a work in a little wage jobs in order to, you know, to move up. I think it’s also important to raise the minimum wage throughout the country and—because I think people deserve to make a living wage.
CLINTON: Yes. No, I agree with that completely. I am very much in favor of raising the minimum wage at the federal level. States and some cities are on their own raising the minimum wage. But I think there needs to be a federal floor. And I believe that the Democrats in the Senate are going to introduce legislation to do just that in the week. So I agree with you. Blanca ?
UNKNOWN: Secretary Clinton, I think the biggest thing is, as you mentioned, you were going to keep the executive—if elected president, you plan to keep the executive order. But as a down, you mentioned as well that you are going to push Congress. We look forward—well, personally, and I think all of us at this table look forward to a day where we all become citizens of this country. All of us at the table have knocked doors, phoned banks to get voters out there. And we tell them our stories, because it’s so important that they’re vote not—it’s not only voting for themselves, they are voting for us and the future of this country.
UNKNOWN: So if and when elected, do you plan to push Congress as your first initiative, to push for a Comprehensive Immigration Reform?
CLINTON: Well, it certainly be among my first initiatives. I can’t—sitting here today—predict what will be happening. I know that happened to President Obama when he was elected and found out that we were falling into an economic abyss. And I think he deserves a lot of credit for restabilizing our situation and getting us back on the economic upswing.
So but among the priorities that I would be advocating for—in the beginning would be Comprehensive Immigration Reform. And one of the reasons for that, in addition to everything we’ve discussed is as secretary of state, I saw what happens to countries that established a second-class status for people.
They do not feel that they belong, or they have any allegiance to the country in which they live and work because they’re never fully accepted. That is a recipe for divisiveness and even for disintegration. And there fore, my view strongly is that we are a nation of immigrants. We have assimilated tens and tens of millions of people over the course of our history.
CLINTON: We have 11 million, 12 million people right now who are undocumented. The vast majority of whom have proven that they want to be a citizen of this country and we should put them on that path. And those who say, “Yes, we can do reform, but not a path to citizenship,” would be fundamentally undermining what has made America unique—the way we have assimilated people, the way people who come here feel so loyal, the contributions they make.
So this is not just in my view the right thing to do for America. If you compare us to other countries that did not take that step, you can see what it’s done to them. And I don’t want to go there. So I very firmly support a path to citizenship in the context of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Juan?
UNKNOWN: I kind of just want to add a little personal story with what Rafael said. When I graduated high school, I realized I couldn’t find any work. And my dad wasn’t working as well. And we found a landscaping job, like a labor for a company. And we’re actually getting paid $6 an hour where they would work us like excessively.
And, you know, I was young. And I was just working really, really hard. It’s been to a point where you felt like that you’d be humiliated. I remember we’d been working and that the boss was there. We could not look at him in the eye. We could not look at him, and we could not stop working. We hadn’t worked harder. And even if it was lunchtime, you had to be working until he left.
And, you know, I was just—there’s lots of stories not just like that. There’s other stories that we have and I’m through that. It just felt like that and it’s really hard. And, you know, me and my dad worked really hard. You know, Timber United —so when he would get home from work, and I would see him limping, I don’t like, you know, I don’t want this for him which is kind of what motivated me to do something for us.
UNKNOWN: And, you know, he’s helped me out through all his life and raised me to respect everyone and be honest and, you know, supported me with school. When we didn’t have money, I’d still go part-time to see a cent. I don’t know how I did it but I was going. And, you know, I just looking out for him. And we can’t [inaudible] united so I’m really glad he’s like my business partner.
CLINTON: I bet he’d say the same thing about you.
CLINTON: But, you know, Juan, you make a good point. It’s not only about the minimum wage and decent working conditions for people like you and your dad. Often times when I have conversations with people who are fearful about immigration reform, their fears are rooted in the feeling that they’re losing jobs that are going to people who are undocumented.
And part of that fear has a reality to it is because if people pay you $6 hour, because you’re undocumented. Why would they pay somebody who already is a citizen what the minimum wage should be? So my argument is the quicker we can legalize the people who are here, the better the job market will be for everybody because you will not have a group of people who are taken advantage of and you will not have others who feel as though—and to some extent it’s true—are losing jobs because this group that is being taken advantage of is paid so much less and treated so much worse.
So my argument to people who worry about Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the effect on their jobs, it’s just the opposite. The sooner we can get to legalization, the better the job market will be for everybody. Then, employers will not be able to violate the laws—the Wage and Hour Laws for example, because they’re not dealing with a workforce that is scared to say anything, or even scared to look at the boss when he shows up on the work site.
So this is about everybody, not just about you and your dad.
UNKNOWN: Yes, of course.
UNKNOWN: I’ll tell you one more question.
UNKNOWN: I just wanted to say, what do you plan—well, I know here in Nevada and this county our education—we keep on like lowering the education. A lot of kids aren’t graduating. And I feel like we need to reach out to these kids and…
UNKNOWN: … show them that school is very important and so is higher education. A lot of kids don’t even—they qualify for college—there’s not an—maybe we need to figure out some other way. I think a lot of the reason is because of funding.
UNKNOWN: They can’t afford it and they feel discouraged and they just go on…
UNKNOWN: … and decide not to go to school.
CLINTON: Right. Well, look I think that that’s a big part of what we have to do to make sure that out economy is competitive and also to make sure that every young person has a chance to continue their education whether it’s a community college or college or a job training kind of program that will give them a good start. And you make a really strong point because it’s so expensive to continue your education that too many kids are feeling—and their parents are feeling it’s just beyond their reach.
So that’s why I support President Obama’s proposal for free community college which at least get you started and I’d like to look to see how we get the debt under control and give people a chance to, you know, not be burdened by debt which makes it really hard for them to start a business or to continue their education.
So this is going to be a big part of, you know, my education policy as I go forward in the campaign because you’re 100 percent right. Too many young people today feel like, you know, it’s just out of their reach or they graduate with some much debt they feel like they are paralyzed. They don’t know what to do. They can’t buy a house, they can’t get married, they can’t start a business because the have so much in student debt.
And, you know, then, in Iowa and in New Hampshire, you know, the average student in Iowa graduates with about $30,000 worth of debt, and then, the average student in New Hampshire, about $32,000 worth of debt. They’re at the higher end. Nevada is still at the lower end of debt.
But, you know, you also have a lot of people who don’t have that much in assets and income. So it’s all, you know, relative to what they can afford. So we have to do more on that. And I want to put in a big plug before we give you the last word about Rancho because I learned today that this school uses Title I funds to pay for the A.P. exam fee. This is, you know, this sounds a little archane but I want to emphasize how important this is because when you look at high school education, making it possible for more students to have access to advanced placement courses really ups the level of education.
It gives kids a leg up if they go on to college because they may have some credit before they ever get there. But too many kids in the past and still across our country don’t take the test because—I don’t know what it does today—$80?
CLINTON: $85. That’s a lot of money if, you know, you’re making minimum wage or less. So I want to—I really want to—I don’t—I hope that the Rancho administrators are still here because—good. The principal is still here. I want to give them a big shout out for using Title I funding to make sure every kid who wants to take an A.P. course gets to and gets to take the exam.
So I’m sure, you’re going to do some of that next year. [crosstalk] Currently. You have them tomorrow?
UNKNOWN: I had my Chemistry test Monday and I have my Statistics and English Language next Monday.
CLINTON: So you’re taking three A.P. exams as a junior?
CLINTON: Wow. Wow. OK.
UNKNOWN: [inaudible] to education topic?
UNKNOWN: Once DACA was brought open—established, it opened doors for many like myself to school to try Yale, Harvard, et cetera. But oftentimes, the journey ends there and I was wondering if or what was your position or what will you offer in order for us to be able to continue on to our education and become or raised doctors, so on and so forth.
CLINTON: Well, I think it’s very shortsighted of us not to legalize students who graduate from college and can use their skills to make a good life for themselves but also to give back. We have thousands and thousands of foreign students come to our country every year. And they get a great education in our colleges and universities. And then, a lot of them stay.
Well, I want you to be a doctor if that’s what you want to be. I mean you’ve come up to our system, you’ve worked hard, and then you’ve done exceptionally well. So I think this is the particular fix in addition to the other fixes we’ve been talking about.
You know, I read an article recently about a group of young, undocumented men who were really interested in technology and they entered a contest against kids from the best schools and companies and they won. And so, you have four kids who beat the best of the best. And they couldn’t do anything because they were undocumented.
And I am sitting there thinking, “What is wrong with this picture?” We are in a global competition and I intend for us to win it. And I’m about to let anybody who can make a contribution to our economy and our society get thrown away.
So from my perspective we need to fix that, we need to remove the fear, and we need to make sure that we give every child a chance to do the best that he or she can. And if that means going to Yale and becoming a doctor I want that to happen.
So, as you can tell, I could be here all day because, you know, six exceptional young people, we have some proud parents and grandparents and teachers here.
But let me and where I started thanking Rancho for having me here, thanking each of you for being willing and brave enough to sit here and talk about your own lives. I want to reiterate my strong support for the president’s executive actions because he had to act in the face of inaction that was not on the merits but politically motivated for partisan reasons which I think is not the way we should be solving our problems in our country, in our Congress or anywhere else.
And I’m so pleased that the congresswoman is here because I know she’s a champion for a lot of the issues that we are talking about today. And I want to get back to good old-fashioned problem-solving. And this is one of the problems we have to solve together.
So I pledge to you I will do everything I possibly can to make this an issue in the campaign but more importantly, when I’m president, to put it on the top of my priority list.
So if you’ll stay here, we’re going to do a picture. And maybe we could get the Rancho—the principal and others to come up and join us, you know. Yes. Let’s get the administrators who invited us all here to come and stand. If you’ll just stand with us we will get a picture with everybody. Congresswoman, why don’t you join us?
Write me a memo about what I need to do differently. Yes, you want to come around?
UNKNOWN: What if everybody stand up?
CLINTON: OK. We stand up? That’s good. Excellent.
CLINTON: OK. Come closer. Give me that. And Juan, you’re going to give me that. That’s great.
UNKNOWN: Say cheese.
CLINTON: Yes, look at Barb and then we’ll look at all the very proud parents with their cameras.
CLINTON: OK. So we’ll look over here. OK, got some cameras over here. It’s like when you’re on the red carpet and they yell at you. “Look here”.
OK. Thank you. Great. You want to come around? OK. Good to meet you, Chris.
UNKNOWN: Good to meet you. Thank you so much.
CLINTON: I’m so happy I could. Thank you so much.
UNKNOWN: I’m very grateful.
CLINTON: Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Is your name Barbara ?
Everyone call her Barb.
UNKNOWN: Thank you.
And just so you know, my mom write to you like everywhere. [inaudible] friendly.
UNKNOWN: [inaudible] go away and you should call it Hillary until [inaudible] Hillary is…
CLINTON: I love that.
UNKNOWN: Right. It’s nice.
CLINTON: Here you go.