Sanders Says Clinton 'Irresponsible' on Immigration

Democrats try to woo Latinos as California primary comes down to the wire

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders listens as Betty Jaspeado, left, shares her immigrant experience during a forum on Latin American and immigration policy on Saturday in Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton's position on sending immigrant children who had crossed the border illegally back to their native countries as "irresponsible" as the two battled for the critical Latino vote in Tuesday's California primary.  

Six states vote on Tuesday, with California's 475 delegates the biggest prize. After winning Puerto Rico's primary on Sunday, Clinton is 26 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win the Democratic nomination.  

[ Sanders' Long Shot Delegate Hunt ]  

California's large Latino population could be a key to whether Clinton wins the state as she claims the nomination or if she suffers another nagging loss to Sanders as she heads into the party's convention in Philadelphia in July.  

The two highlighted their differences on immigration in appearances in Los Angeles over the weekend, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Clinton criticized Sanders' opposition to the 2007 immigration reform bill that she supported. Sanders opposed the bill at the time because he said it would drive down wages for low-income workers.

[ Inside the Smears: Clinton Vs. Sanders ]

At a separate forum, Sanders said he would support a new policy that would protect immigrants in the country illegally from being deported if they were cheated out of wages by their employers.

On Sunday, Sanders criticized Clinton's previous statements on immigration via Twitter.

Sanders was specifically referring to Clinton's statements two years ago regarding children who were at the Mexico-U.S. border, when she said "We have so to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn't mean the child gets to stay."  

Then an hour later:

[ Jerry Brown’s Long, Strange Trip to a Clinton Peace ]  

Sanders has been making a big push in California in his hope for an upset victory, with a focus on Latinos, who outnumber whites in the state, 14.99 million to 14.92 million, according to a Census Bureau study.  

Polls in California show the Democratic race has tightened over the final weeks of the campaign, with only 2 or 3 percentage points separating the two candidates.

Contact Garcia at  EricGarcia@cqrollcall.com  and follow him on Twitter  @EricMGarcia .

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