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Hillary Clinton press availability in Queens, N.Y.

20160411 HRC Press Avail in Queens NY

HILLARY CLINTON: Well I think it's pretty clear. The best chance we had for comprehensive immigration reform was under Ted Kennedy’s leadership in 2007. I voted for it, Senator Sanders voted against it. He made several comments about that. He went on the Lou Dobbs show, which at that time, was really beating the drum against legal immigration.

And I think our records are very clear. I started co-sponsoring the DREAM act back in 2002 or 2003. I consistently did that. Senator Sanders, by contrast, was supporting vigilantes, the so-called minutemen on the border.

And I think it's so unfortunate that he did not join with others of us in either the House or the Senate which is why the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other activists and leaders like Dolores Huerta have been speaking out so strongly for me and against him. I was honored to get the United Farm Workers union endorsement because I've been on the front lines with them.

There's just really no comparison. And the point here though that I want to make is we need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. It would be incredibly important for the country that we let people come out of the shadows who are already working, making contributions, who have mixed families where some members of the family are citizens and some members aren't.

So I am very clear on what I think we can accomplish together. But the point about immigration and the way that Donald Trump has been using this issue along with Ted Cruz and other Republicans really goes against American values. We are a nation of immigrants and I am proud to have represented New York for eight years, I am proud to have been the Secretary of state and going to 112 countries and standing up for our values.

And the core of that value is that we are the land of freedom and opportunity. We have the Statue of Liberty in our harbor, we have invited people. And Trump's rhetoric, his divisiveness, his incitement of aggressive behavior and violence is absolutely unacceptable and needs to be called out.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, now about immigration reform—

QUESTION: Hi, you have a debate on [inaudible] coming up in just a couple of days. I'm wondering what you hope will be asked and how you're preparing for it.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well I'm looking forward to it. We worked hard to be sure to get that debate and I'm happy that we're having a debate here in New York. And, I'm going to be prepared to continue to make the case about what I will do as President, why I'm the best prepared and ready person to do all aspects of the job, what it means when I say I want to knock down all the barriers that stand in the way of Americans getting ahead and staying ahead and continue to draw contrasts between myself and my opponent.

So I think it will be lively and I have noticed that under the bright spotlight and scrutiny here in New York, Senator Sanders has had trouble answering questions. He has had trouble answering questions about his core issue, namely dealing with the banks. He's had trouble answering foreign policy questions. And so I look forward to a debate that is in New York with people asking the kind of questions that New Yorkers ask.

QUESTION: So Madam Secretary, about immigration—

QUESTION: People have been coming from all over Wall Street — Sanders supporters have been harassing your supporters, what do you make of that? Would you ask him to encourage his supporters to take a more civil approach?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well I've heard those reports and I've had some firsthand accounts of some of the unfortunate behavior that we've seen both online and in person and look, I'm proud that up until now, we have run a campaign based on issues. We have differences in approach and experience, but I think that staying on the issues is what we should do.

There seems to be a growing level of anxiety in that campaign, which I hope doesn't spill over into the way that his supporters treat other people who have every right to support whomever they choose. And where things stand now, I am far ahead of them in the popular vote, considerably ahead in the pledged delegates and let's stay on the issues and let voters in New York and the states that follow make their decisions.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, about immigration reform can I ask—

QUESTION: In Brooklyn this weekend, you said you wanted to focus on the Republicans [inaudible]. Are you surprised by how long this primary has lasted and at what point do you think the Democrats will be coming together and focus on people like Donald Trump, like you're [inaudible] today.

HILLARY CLINTON: Dan, I am not surprised. I mean, let's remember, I went all the way to the end of 2008 and I'm not making any comment about how hard anybody competes. I'm for a good tough contest, and I'm going to run my campaign. I'm going to make my case. I'm thrilled to be here in New York and had the honor of serving this state for eight years.

I have a lot of friends, places I've been, people I've worked with in the past and I am going to keep working to get every vote I can here. But I do believe we cannot let Donald Trump's comments, his attacks, his absolutely out of bounds denigration of groups of people from American women to being able to make our own decisions to American Muslims. It's dangerous.

People around the world as well as our country are hearing this and they're wondering, "What's happening in America?" So, I intend to do everything I can to become the nominee, I'm clearly focused on that. But at the same time I want to start drawing the starkest distinctions between what I know America stands for, what I believe are, not just New York, but American values, and what, what Donald Trump is standing for.

So, we're just going to keep going. I think I can walk and chew gum at the same time.

QUESTION: You keep talking about comprehensive immigration reform, something that President Obama promised but weren't able to deliver, what would you--shouldn't you be talking about a piecemeal approach that would be easier to do? Otherwise, aren't you making a promise that you won't be able to keep, like you claim Senator Sanders is making?

HILLARY CLINTON: No, I'm not. I'm making a clear pledge that I'm going to do everything I can to pass comprehensive immigration reform. I hope that we will have a Democratic Senate. I'm going to work very hard to elect Democrats so we can take back the Senate. And under the very able leadership of my friend and former colleague, Senator Schumer, I think we can be successful in passing comprehensive immigration reform through the Senate.

That's why I go back to the 2007 vote. Many people say that it was our best opportunity and Senator Sanders voted no, I voted yes. And I think it was a missed opportunity with the 2013 version of comprehensive immigration reform.

Let's see what happens in this election, because at some point reality needs to set it. If we win as I expect we will and we have a Democrat in the White House, again, because of the kind of broad-based, inclusive coalition that elected and reelected then Senator, then President Obama and that I believe will be the base of my support. I believe at some point reality has to intrude in Republican thinking about immigration. They can't continue to try and demonize whole groups of Americans.

So, stay tuned. I've said we're going to start it as soon as I get there, we're going to work on it, and I feel very confident that we're going to get what we need done.

QUESTION: Senator Sanders has tried to make this campaign about Wall Street. Do you think that will happen again now that we're right in the middle of it geographically?

HILLARY CLINTON: You know what? Let it happen, let it happen. I have a record. As your Senator I spoke out, I called for changes. I have the best policy for dealing with what needs to happen to prevent Wall Street from ever wrecking Main Street again.

Every progressive economist from Paul Krugman to professors and universities, Barney Frank, they've all said I have the plan that will actually work. Senator Sanders couldn't even answer questions about whatever his plan is. So we'll talk.

NICK MERRILL (Clinton aide): Thanks very much. Bye guys.