Bernie Sanders has received some criticism for not making his stance on certain issues particularly clear, including immigration reform; however, on Friday the potential Democratic presidential candidate spoke up about the need for immigration reform during a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO).
Sanders dealt with the issue in a typically idiosyncratic manner, eschewing the standard rhetoric of his colleagues with regard to immigrants being the family members of those with US citizenship and preferring to instead emphasize the role these immigrants play in the United States as workers. The comments do not represent a shift in stance for the politician, as Sanders previously supported the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, although this is the first time he has made it clear that he not only agrees with President Obama’s deferred action programs but would also expand on them.
Sanders particularly focused on undocumented immigrants who have been exploited by employers and “been routinely cheated out of their wages, held virtually captive by employers who have seized their documents, forced to live in unspeakably inhumane conditions and denied medical benefits for on-the-job injuries.”
Sanders’ comments are consistent with his overall belief that the root of America’s problems, and the cause of most of its major issues, is economic inequality, which needs to be addressed. “It’s time to end the politics of division – playing one group against another group – white vs black, male vs female, straight vs gay, or native-born vs immigrant,” he said in his NALEO speech.