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El Paso Times - Immigration Reform High on Clinton's To-Do List

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El Paso Times - Immigration Reform High on Clinton's To-Do List

After losing in the Democratic presidential primaries in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., last week, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton quickly headed to El Paso and the rest of Texas with hopes of reigniting her campaign with a strong showing in states that will vote March 4.

After a rally Tuesday night at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, she sat down with the El Paso Times for an exclusive interview. She used her time to give more specifics about her campaign.

What the former first lady and current U.S. senator from New York had to say:

# El Paso Times: Give us an assessment of how your national campaign is going.

Clinton: It's been up and down because I've won a lot and my opponent has won a lot, and we are going into these big races in Texas and Ohio knowing that this could make the difference. That's why Texas is so important to me. But I'm ahead. I'm ahead in delegates and I'm ahead in the popular vote. But it is a very close contest, so it's really significant that I have so much support here in Texas and I'm going to do everything I can to earn as many votes as possible. (Editor's note: After Tuesday's primary election results came in, Obama passed Clinton. As of Saturday, the delegate count stood at 1,280 for Obama and 1,218 for Clinton.)

# El Paso Times: What has surprised you the most about the campaign?

Clinton: It's been so intense. There has not been a day off for over a year. It's been a very intense campaign because I think people are interested. They want to know what's going to happen after George Bush leaves, and they want to be a part of picking the next president.

# El Paso Times: Under the Hillary Clinton administration, what would be in the future for border crossings between El Paso and Juárez?

Clinton: I am facing the same problem in New York because we share a border with Canada, and we are fighting Homeland Security because of the burdens they are imposing. They are interfering with peoples' natural lives. People go back and forth all the time, for business, for recreation, for family reasons, and I just don't think that it has to be either-or. I believe we can protect our security and have a more sensible border-crossing policy, and I intend to try to do that as president.

# El Paso Times: On immigration, you've talked about having a plan that allows people living in the U.S. illegally to earn citizenship. Can you expand on that?

Clinton: I support comprehensive immigration reform. So that means we do have to toughen border security. We do have to crack down on employers who exploit undocumented workers. We have to help communities like El Paso get more federal funding for education and health care and other costs. I'd like to work with our neighbors to the south to help them create more jobs for their people.

But then we have to bring people out of the shadows. If they've committed a crime here or in the country they came from, they will be deported, but that is a very small number. Otherwise, the vast majority will be asked to meet certain conditions. They will have to pay a fine because they did come here illegally, they have to try to pay back taxes over time, and they have to try to learn English.

But then, as long as they are working and law-abiding, they are going to have an earned path to citizenship.

# El Paso Times: If you had a final message for El Paso, what would it be?

Clinton: That I will be a good president for El Paso, that I will help to solve the problems. I am going to bring 21st-century solutions to our border, to the economy, to our housing problems, to education. I want to have universal health care so that everyone can have quality, affordable health care. I'm a problem solver, and I think after George Bush we need a president who puts the American people first, rolls up our sleeves and gets to solving our problems, and that's what I'll do.

Ramon Bracamontes may be reached at rbracamontes@elpasotimes.com; 546-6142.


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