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Immigration, the gender wage gap, and Donald Trump emerge as themes for Democratic candidates in KC Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley address NCLR

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Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley addressed the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) on Monday at the Kansas City Convention Center. No Republican candidates spoke at the conference.

NCLR is an national organization that advocates for the rights of the Hispanic and Latino population. Its conference in Kansas City runs from July 11 through 14.

 Although the three candidates spoke separately, several themes emerged, including immigration reform, recent controversial comments by Donald Trump, and the gender wage gap.

 On comprehensive immigration reform

 All three candidates voiced their support for comprehensive immigration reform.

Clinton stressed the idea that a reformed immigration policy could raise the nation’s GDP. “It is an economic imperative, it is a family imperative, it is a moral imperative,” she said.

Sanders, the son of a Polish immigrant, also cited economic reasons for reforming immigration.

 “Let us be frank,” he said. “Today’s undocumented workers play an important role in today’s economy. Without these workers, it is likely our agricultural system would collapse.”.

 On Donald Trump’s comments

Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses the National Council of La Raza Annual Conference Monday, July 13, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (Photo by Bridgit Bowden/Flatland)

Not surprisingly, all three candidates took the opportunity to address Donald Trump’s recent comments about immigrants.

Clinton said Trump’s comments were “divisive rhetoric that demonizes immigrants and their families.”

O’Malley said that even though Trump is getting attention for the statement, many other Republicans could have said the same thing. “It’s so hard to tell him apart from many of the other candidates,” O’Malley said.

 On women

 The luncheon crowd applauded when Clinton demanded that the wage gap between men and women be closed. She cited a statistic that Latina women earn 56 cents for every dollar that white men earn.

 “It is time to end the outrage of so many women earning less than men on the job,” she said.

Sanders encouraged the audience to imagine a nation in which everyone has access to affordable childcare.

“When  a woman has a baby, regardless of her income she should be able to stay at home with that baby,” he said.

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