Sanders Surrogates Slam ‘Bogus’ Clinton Immigration Attacks Prior to Nevada Caucus

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at Bonanza High School on February 14, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sanders is challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination ahead of Nevada's Feb. 20 Democratic caucus.
Las Vegas, NV

An hour an-a-half before polling sites opened on Saturday for the anticipated Nevada Democratic caucus, Bernie Sanders surrogates held a conference call in response to the Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s “bogus attacks” on his immigration voting record.

In 2007, Sanders was viewed as standing with conservatives in rejecting the “bipartisan” Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act bill (sometimes referred to as the “Gang of 12”) that was introduced by then-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Sanders said his decision to reject the bill was “starkly economic” and gave the following explanation:

What this legislation is not about is addressing the real needs of American workers … What it is about is bringing into this country over a period of years millions of low-wage temporary workers, with the result that wages and benefits in this country, which are already going down, will go down even further.

Just six years later, in 2013, Sanders voted “yes” to the similar “Gang of Eight” bill joining the ranks of the Democrats he had previously wagered against.

Erika Andiola, the national Latino outreach press secretary for Sanders’s campaign moderated the call. She said she is supporting Sanders because he is the one she believes to be best in “fighting for her family who is still undocumented” in the United States. “We ned to keep families together,” Andiola said.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Councilman Gil Cedillo (D-LA), Isabel Garcia, an immigration activist and former Pima County Legal Defender and Alfredo Gutierrez, the former majority & minority leader of the Arizona State Senate also participated in the call.
Grijalva said the “desperation” on the behalf of the Clinton campaign “is a little pathetic to watch.”

Gutierrez said that Sanders’s 2007 vote was in conformance with many Latinos at he time. “It was more a gift to corporate America than it was a path to legalization and keeping families together,” Grijalva said of it. “If this is going to be used as a battery ram against Bernie… we will, as assertively as we can, push back.”

Ysabel Garcia, a longtime immigration activist said Sanders is the candidate who best views “immigration in a holistic way” and lauded him for understanding the “power of the 1 percent, the power of the corporations and how they have managed to really damage the lives of those living in this county.”

Councilman Cedillo of Los Angeles, who proudly expressed that he is “also an author of the California DREAM Act”, said “we must stop this very dangerous program called Operation Streamline.” Operation Streamline is a joint initiative introduced in 2005 between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice which seeks to criminalize unauthorized and illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border. It was created with the goal of combating drugs and weapons trafficking as well as human smuggling.

Only one question was taken from the media, due to a lack of time. It came from Tom LoBianco of CNN who asked why Clinton didn’t start the attacks on Sanders sooner. Grijalva said Laviano asked hard questions and that the circumstances have changed.

It was suggested this was partially due to the Clinton camp’s premature confidence that they would win the vote of the Hispanic community. Clinton won Saturday’s caucus which was rife with complications and turned out to be one of the most disorganized polling sites in recent history.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.