When Bernie Sanders joined the Senate, he and his allies in the labor movement took on a big target: a new comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“I believe we have very serious immigration problems in this country,” Sanders said during a 2007 press event, with AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka behind him. “I think as you’ve heard today, sanctions against employers who employ illegal immigrants is virtually nonexistent. Our border is very porous.”
“And I think at a time when the middle class is shrinking, the last thing we need is to bring over in a period of years, millions of people into this country who are prepared to lower wages for American workers,” he later added. Sanders voted against the 2007 bill, but went on to vote in favor of a similar 2013 bill while making plain his fears that it could exacerbate the issue of immigrant workers “making it harder for US citizens to find jobs.”
That rhetoric stands in stark contrast to how Bernie Sanders sounds today. Just four years after a contentious presidential primary where his immigration record was a consistent point of attack, Sanders has changed, people who have worked with him closely on immigration issues told BuzzFeed News. Sanders, they said, has spent time closely listening and working with immigrant rights activists, forming new policy and finding new ways to talk about the issue, in line with the more progressive conversations in this primary And he is now running for president with the support of grassroots Latino activists and major immigrant rights groups.
“He has made wild shifts,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, a former Hillary Clinton campaign advisor and now the political director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance and chair of Families Belong Together. “And you know what, it’s incredible. Where he is now is absolutely outstanding. I am impressed. It’s hard to impress me when it comes to him, but he has made a shift that is quite significant.”
By Nidhi Prakash for BUZZFEED.NEWS
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