Clinton calls for 'path to full and equal citizenship'


Hillary Clinton is inviting -- and practically baiting -- Republican presidential contenders into a battle over immigration. In her first Nevada campaign event on Tuesday afternoon, the Democratic front-runner accused the entire GOP field of seeking to relegate immigrants to "second-class status."

She promised to go further than President Barack Obama, whose unilateral moves to keep more undocumented immigrants in the United States have infuriated conservatives.

"I'm ready to have this discussion with anyone, anywhere, anytime," she said.

Clinton camp on defense about trustworthiness

Issuing her strongest call yet for "a path to full and equal citizenship," Clinton hit her GOP opponents, House and Senate leaders and every other target she could find for stymying previous pushes for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.

"This is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side," she said. "Make no mistake, not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second class status."

The signal Clinton's Las Vegas event sent was direct and simple: She's willing to go all-in on pushing immigration reform, banking on it being a huge winner for Democrats in 2016.

And she's fine with moving as far to the left as she needs in order to lure Republicans into attacking her for it.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll underscored the potential payoff of Clinton's strategy. She leads former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Miami resident whose family speaks Spanish at home, 66% to 28% among Latinos, and leads Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is of Cuban heritage and once pushed for immigration reform in Congress, 63% to 32% among Latinos.

Clinton and her campaign aides hope her bet will be bolstered by the fact Hispanics have been one of the fastest growing voting blocs nationwide for years. In 2008, according to Pew, 19.5% of all eligible voters were Hispanic. That number shot up to 23.7% in 2012 and is expected to grow even more by 2016. In Nevada, a critical early presidential primary state, Hispanics make up 30% of the population.

Republican presidential candidates have all hammered Obama's executive actions that Clinton said she supports. They cited new Attorney General Loretta Lynch's support for those actions as a key reason many opposed her nomination.

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