“As a Senator I was proud to cosponsor the national DREAM Act and to vote for it. I’m a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and I believe that we have to fix our broken immigration system. We have to keep families together. We have to treat everyone with dignity and compassion, uphold the rule of law, and respect our heritage as a nation of immigrants striving to build a better life. And so, bringing millions of hardworking people out of the shadows and into the formal economy is what we’re doing in Maryland and what we need to do across the United States.” – Hillary Clinton, 10/30/14
Supporting the DREAM Act. Hillary Clinton has called passage of DREAM Act “long overdue.” This legislation, which would allow immigrant children who “have demonstrated good moral character, and are pursuing a college education or have enlisted in the military, the… opportunity to earn legal status in this country,” was cosponsored by Clinton in 2003, 2005, and 2007.
Fighting for comprehensive immigration reform. Hillary Clinton has long been an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. She was one of the two cosponsors of Senator Ted Kennedy’s 2004 bill, the S.O.L.V.E. Act, and during her time in the Senate she continued to cosponsor and vote for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Hillary called for “a path to legalization” to bring people “out of the shadows,” and she pledged that, if elected, she would introduce a plan for immigration reform “in the first 100 days” of her presidency. As Sec. Clinton recently told a tearful young undocumented immigrant, “I’m a huge supporter of immigration reform and a path to citizenship and will continue to advocate for that.”
Expanding access to health care. Hillary Clinton introduced the Legal Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act to end the five-year waiting period for immigrant children and pregnant women to participate in the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Advocating for her 2007 bill, she said, “While most children receive preventative medical care, such as vaccines and routine dental care, too often immigrant children do not. They are forced to forego treatment and can ultimately end up seeking needed care in emergency rooms—the least cost-effective place to provide care.” Reintroduced and passed in 2009 as part of the Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization, former Secretary of Health and Human Resources Kathleen Sebelius praised this legislative push that ultimately allowed health “coverage to all children who are lawfully present in the United States.”
Job training for people with limited English proficiency. Hillary Clinton developed and introduced legislation to expand job training access to people with limited English language skills. Touting this bill, the Access to Employment and English Acquisition Act, Hillary said, “There is no question that English proficiency is critical to economic advancement and improved quality of life for LEP [Limited English Proficient] workers and their families. Workers who are fluent in oral and written English earn about 24 percent more than those who lack fluency, regardless of their qualifications. These individuals are better able to participate in the civic life of their community, which so many LEP individuals in New York tell me they want to do.”
Expanding opportunities to gain permanent residency. As a candidate for Senate, Hillary Clinton called for passage of legislation so that “All immigrants on the verge of gaining residency status should not be forced to leave this country while they wait for the INS to process their application.” The LIFE Act and LIFE Act Amendments, enacted in December 2000, allowed certain eligible immigrants until April, 2001 to apply for permanent residency without being forced to leave the United States first. As a Senator, Hillary urged those eligible to apply for the program and she cosponsored legislation to extend it until April, 2002.
Keeping families together. In 2007, during debate over the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, Hillary Clinton introduced an amendment to reclassify the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives. As she said before the vote, “It is time to take all the rhetoric about family values and put it into action and show that we mean what we say when we talk about putting families first. That is what my amendment does… It is our view we must make reuniting families a priority in our immigration system, that we should show compassion for those living apart from their spouses and minor children, that we should reform immigration in a way that honors families and brings them together.” The bipartisan amendment failed, 44-53.