By Rafael Bernal
April 5, 2016
Bernie Sanders says the nation’s trade policy is partly to blame for expanded illegal immigration, arguing that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has worsened economic and political conditions in Latin America.
In response to a questionnaire published by the The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) Monday, the Democratic presidential candidate said NAFTA was supposed to "significantly reduce the flow of undocumented immigrants into this country," but “history has demonstrated the opposite."
NAFTA was approved under President Clinton. Sanders has attacked his rival in the White House race, Hillary Clinton, for supporting the trade pact in the 1990s, arguing it created lost jobs and a “race to the bottom.”
In her answers to the NHLA questionnaire, Hillary Clinton did not address the root causes of illegal immigration, though she declared herself a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and a "humane and targeted" enforcement system.
Sanders, meanwhile, declared he would support legislative measures beyond comprehensive immigration reform and would expand upon President Obama's executive actions on immigration. Clinton has made a similar pledge.
The NHLA, a major coalition of Hispanic associations, said they presented the questionnaire to all presidential candidates in February.
Both Democratic presidential candidates submitted their responses, which NHLA published.
"We didn't hear from any of the Republicans," said NHLA Chairman Héctor Sánchez.
"The doors are wide open and we really want to engage with all the candidates to better understand their policy priorities," added Sánchez, who said NHLA is non-partisan.
The survey included questions on issues ranging from immigration and voting rights to climate change and Puerto Rico's financial crisis.
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