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Presidential Candidates Offer Competing Immigration Plans


The refugee crisis across Europe, the threat of terrorism and the 11 million people now living in the United States illegally all are issues for U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The Republican and Democratic rivals have dramatically different immigration policies that resonate with some voters and anger others. However, both say they are pursuing policies that will accept immigrants while protecting the nation's security.

The immigration issue is central to Clinton's outreach to Hispanic voters, among whom she has a 3-to-1 lead over Trump, according to a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center.

The United States is a nation of immigrants, Clinton told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on September 15. "You're our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, our families," she said in an address to Hispanic lawmakers and their supporters.

FILE - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center, Aug. 31, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona. After considering a softer position, Trump has no reverted to his original hard stance on immigration.

FILE - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center, Aug. 31, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona. After considering a softer position, Trump has no reverted to his original hard stance on immigration.

Trump: Check for terrorists

Trump's campaign says he will "prioritize the jobs, wages and security of the American people." For the Republican candidate, U.S. security will be enhanced by blocking immigration from nations with a history of terrorism until all potential immigrants can be thoroughly screened. He called earlier for a ban on all Muslim immigrants but has since revised that proposal.

Trump's 10-point immigrant plan has as its centerpiece a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico, to be paid for by the Mexican government. He would deport criminal aliens, end the program called catch-and-release, expand the Border Patrol and improve the E-Verify system of workplace enforcement.

FILE - A U.S. Border Patrol agent drives near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Sunland Park, New Mexico, Jan. 4, 2016.

FILE - A U.S. Border Patrol agent drives near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Sunland Park, New Mexico, Jan. 4, 2016.

The first of a series of controversial comments about illegal immigrants came from Trump as he announced his presidential run last year.

"They're bringing drugs [into the U.S.], they're bringing crime, they're rapists," he said of undocumented migrants, most of whom enter the country through Mexico. "And some, I assume, are good people," he added.

Polls show that Hispanics, like other Americans, are concerned with the economy, health care and terrorism, but immigration is a major theme in this election, said political scientist Raphael Sonenshein of the Pat Brown Institute at California State University-Los Angeles.

"Requests for ballots are very high among Latino voters," he said. "There's a tremendous buzz in the Spanish-language media about Trump, and people feel very strongly that he's a serious threat to their community."

FILE - Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks on immigration at an event at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, May 5, 2015.

FILE - Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks on immigration at an event at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, May 5, 2015.

Clinton: 'Keep families together'

Clinton is calling for comprehensive immigration reform that will deal with the millions of illegal immigrants. "My proposal will keep families together," she says, ruling out mass deportations, "and it will include a path to citizenship." She promises to implement her plan during her first 100 days in office. She would also fix the family visa backlog, protect the borders and national security, and "bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy."

Clinton promises to uphold programs enacted by President Barack Obama through executive orders called DACA and DAPA, which defer the deportation of those brought to the United States illegally as children, as well as undocumented parents of American citizens and some lawful immigrants who face expulsion. Trump has promised to end both programs.

Clinton has a history of protecting immigrants and "supporting all communities, making sure that we are all welcome, that we are not scapegoated," said California Democrat Fiona Ma, a former San Francisco supervisor and California assemblywoman. She is now an elected official on the state's tax board.

Trump will keep the country safe, his supporters say.

A survey of Asian-American organizations reveals what they expect from the winning candidate, said Indian-American Reshma Shamasunder of Asian-Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. She said Asian-Americans see "access to citizenship services, access to learning English [and] support such as health care" as programs that are critically important.

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