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Clinton, Sanders Trade Barbs on Immigration in Florida Debate

  • Ken Schwartz

Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton enters the stage after a break as Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, makes notes, March 9, 2016.

Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton enters the stage after a break as Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, makes notes, March 9, 2016.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders challenged each other's records, particularly on immigration, in a sometimes contentious debate Wednesday night in the southeastern state of Florida.

They compete in a primary there and in four other delegate-rich states next Tuesday with Vermont Senator Sanders trying to build off a surprise win in Michigan and catch the former secretary of state.

Clinton criticized Sanders for voting against an immigration reform bill in 2007, while he slammed Clinton for opposing a push to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. But both candidates said they would not deport children or immigrants who do not have a criminal record.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, speaks at the Univision-Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College in Florida, March 9, 2016.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, speaks at the Univision-Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College in Florida, March 9, 2016.

They addressed Republican candidate Donald Trump's much different stances on immigration that include a pledge to build a wall at the Mexican border and deporting the 11 million people living in the country illegally.

Clinton called the wall plan a fantasy, while Sanders said the idea of removing 11 million people is a "vulgar, absurd idea."

Clinton again defended using a personal email account for official business when she was secretary of state, repeating her assertion that she did nothing illegal. When asked if she will pull out of the presidential race if she faces criminal charges, an exasperated Clinton said she would not even respond.

WATCH: Clinton, Sanders trade barbs on immigration

Sanders said he is the strongest candidate to beat Republican front-runner Donald Trump in a head-to-head match.

Referring to the top Republican, Sanders said the American people are never going to elect a president who insults Mexicans, Muslims, women and blacks.

While Clinton declined to outright call Trump a racist, she turned his campaign slogan against him by saying: "You don't make America great by getting rid of everything that made America great."

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