| DES MOINES, Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa Democratic presidential
candidate Hillary Clinton called on Monday for an end to raids
by U.S. officials to deport undocumented Central American
families, saying they were divisive and sowing fear in immigrant
Breaking with President Barack Obama, Clinton condemned the
raids carried out by the Department of Homeland Security and
released a plan that she said would help protect Central
American families seeking asylum.
"I do not think the raids are an appropriate tool to enforce
the immigration laws. In fact, I think they are divisive, they
are sowing discord and fear," Clinton said at the Iowa Brown and
Black forum on minority issues.
Rivals for the Democratic nomination Senator Bernie Sanders
of Vermont and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley have
both spoken out against the raids, and participated in the
Clinton had been slower to distance herself from the policy,
though it has been condemned by many immigration groups and
Democrats in Congress.
As she spoke at the forum, Clinton's campaign released a
statement and paper calling for a stop to the raids.
It also advocated government-funded counsels for all
unaccompanied minors in immigration court and a long-term,
comprehensive fix to asylum and refugee programs that would
include more officers, translators and immigration judges, as
well as investment in development in Central America.
"If the United States takes the lead in organizing a
regional coalition to respond to this crisis, I believe we can
make a serious difference," Clinton said in a statement.
Polls show Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic
nomination in the November election, is clinging to a narrow
lead over Sanders in Iowa, which kicks off the nominating race
on Feb. 1. The polls show she trails him in the next state to
vote, New Hampshire.
The recent raids pursued families with undocumented members,
in what some immigration groups viewed as a response by
officials to a deter Central Americans flooding across the boder
in the southwest.
Sanders said the United States should be careful in
deporting the undocumented back to potentially unstable
situations in Central America.
"We have a moral responsibility. What refugee status is
about is to make sure that people are not forced to return to
communities where their lives may be in danger," he told the