MUSCATINE, Iowa — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told a Latino roundtable meeting here on Friday that “mean and degrading” remarks about immigrants by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are “unacceptable.”
Sanders also faulted the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for refusing to consider a Senate-passed immigration reform bill passed by a bipartisan majority of 68-32 in 2013. “It is incomprehensible that the U.S. House has not yet taken up the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate with my support,” Sanders said. “We need legislation which takes 11 million undocumented people living in the United States out of the shadows and puts them on a path to citizenship.”
Turning to Trump’s attacks on immigrants, Sanders said that “honest people can disagree on immigration reform but candidates running for president should not stoop to racism and demagoguery to win votes.”
In a statement, Sanders said: “This country has experienced racism for hundreds of years. I would have hoped that by the year 2015 leading candidates for president like Mr. Trump would campaign on their ideas as to how they can address our serious problems, and not by trying to divide the country with racist and demagogic appeals. Clearly Trump is scapegoating the Hispanic community. Immigrants are not responsible,” Sanders stressed, “for the disappearing American middle class, the Wall Street collapse brought on by huge financial institutions’ greed and illegal behavior, the war in Iraq, income inequality or climate change.”
At the roundtable discussion, Sanders called Trump’s comments “mean” and “denigrating” to an entire group of people and accused him of using Latinos as “whipping boys” to distract attention from real problems confronting the country. He called it “absurd, racist and wrong” to blame immigrants for the nation’s problems.
“That is absolutely unacceptable,” the senator added during the roundtable discussion at the Muscatine County Boxing Club. “That kind of discourse should be removed from our politics.”
In recent weeks, Trump has proposed the mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. as well as their American-born children. He called for amending the Constitution to end automatic citizenship for children born to immigrants living illegally in the U.S. He has denounced immigrants from Mexico and other Central American nations as “really bad.” He also has vilified immigrants from Latin America in general as responsible for “bringing drugs, bringing crime” into the U.S. He also has branded them as “rapists.”