US presidential hopeful Clinton calls for easier naturalization
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton on Monday (US time) called for an easier path to US citizenship for immigrants, including easing fees associated with naturalization, and other immigration overhauls.
Clinton's remarks, in which she also repeated calls for a pathway to citizenship, ending family detention and closing private detention centers, underscore efforts within the Democratic Party and the presidential race to court Latino voters as that population grows briskly.
"We are a big-hearted country and we should never forget that and we shouldn't let anybody on the public stage say that we are mean-spirited, that we are going to build walls -- mentally and physically -- shut doors," said Clinton in a swipe at recent remarks from Republican candidates.
"We are a country where people of all backgrounds, all nations of origin, all languages, all religions, all races can make a home. America was built by immigrants!"
"I don't want anyone who could be a citizen to miss out on that opportunity," Clinton said in New York at a conference on integrating immigrants into the United States.
Clinton said she would work to expand fee waivers for people looking to naturalize and become US citizens, as well as increasing access to language programs to improve English language proficiency.
The former secretary of state is vying with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party's nomination to the November 2016 contest.
Sanders is scheduled to address the same event, the National Immigrant Integration Conference, on Tuesday.
Both candidates, as well as former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, are expected at Saturday's Democratic debate in New Hampshire.
The US population as a whole is shifting demographically, with the Census expecting the country to become majority minority in coming decades.
Clinton is leading Sanders for her party's support by 47 percent to 26 percent, according to a five-day rolling poll by Reuters/Ipsos dated Dec. 11. —Reuters