USA: Democrats woo Hispanics on immigration

sept 07 the Age

Hillary Clinton and other Democratic presidential hopefuls wooed Hispanic voters with pledges to back a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and attacks on Republican "demagoguery" on the issue of immigration.

All the 2008 Democratic presidential contenders at a debate broadcast in Spanish on Univision, the country's largest Spanish-language television network, said they would push quickly once in the White House for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.

Most of the candidates condemned what they said were Republican efforts to demonise illegal immigrants and use the issue of immigration to divide Americans.

"It is being demagogued and I believe it is being used to bash immigrants and that must stop," Clinton said of the debate on how to handle the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who would be the first Hispanic US president, said: "I object to the dehumanising of people that want to be part of the American dream.".

He and Connecticut senator Chris Dodd are the two fluent Spanish speakers in the Democratic field ...

Hispanics are the country's biggest and fastest-growing minority group, accounting for about 15 per cent of the population and at least 14 million potential voters in 2008 ...

Richardson lampooned plans to build a fence along the Mexican border to protect against illegal immigration.

"If you're going to build a 12-foot wall, you know what's going to happen? A bunch of 13-foot ladders," Richardson said.