I learned a new word at Wednesday night's Univision Democratic debate -- "Hispandering." Univision's Maria Elena Salinas asked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whether she was flip-flopping on her erstwhile opposition to "illegal immigrants." (It's interesting Salinas did not say "undocumented." She said "illegal" immigrants.) Or was Clinton "Hispandering"? Salinas explained that the term means "pandering to Latinos."
I can only hope that Clinton is Hispandering. Her positions certainly have evolved. In 2008, for example, Clinton opposed states granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. Now she supports driver's licenses for immigrants in the country illegally.
When thousands of young children from Central America were crossing the Texan border, Clinton advocated sending unaccompanied minors back to their homes. "We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn't mean the child gets to stay," she said in 2014. "We don't want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey." I praised her for talking sense at the time.
In January, Univision's Jorge Ramos asked Clinton whether she would promise not to deport adults who don't have a criminal record, as well as children. "I would give every person, but particularly children, due process to have their story told. And a lot of children will, of course, have very legitimate stories under our law to be able to stay," she answered.
Two months later, her position has shifted. As he moderated the Thursday night debate, Ramos again asked Clinton whether she would refuse to deport children. This time, Clinton answered, "I will not deport children." Next Ramos asked Clinton to say she would not deport immigrants who don't have a criminal record. She responded, "That's what I'm telling you."
It was a classic Clinton chameleon maneuver executed in the service of political expediency.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont took the same two pledges. If either Democrat were to win in November, then imagine the rush of children eager to cross the border before the new president realizes he or she has to yank that dubious campaign pledge. It would be like migrants flocking to Germany. As Clinton warned before the campaign season heated up, some children will die during the dangerous trek to Texas.
Expect more adults to do likewise, because Clinton and Sanders effectively have promised to do away with any enforcement of federal immigration law. The Democrats' answers promised an era in which noncitizens have a right to live in the United States illegally -- as long as they don't rob a bank or kill someone.
Here's something Ramos left out when he asked the candidates whether they would pledge not to deport undocumented adults who don't have a criminal record: Advocates aren't content to allow Democrats to deport undocumented ex-cons. They don't want misdemeanors to count. Many sanctuary city and state laws only allow for the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have committed recent serious felonies. In San Francisco, undocumented residents can kill someone and still expect sanctuary if the killing occurred more than seven years ago.
Democratic operatives may think their national committee was sly in agreeing to a limited number of political debates -- none of them on Fox News Channel. Clever Dems, they constructed a debate schedule that would isolate presidential hopefuls from general election voters and steer the candidates further and further left. Neither Sanders nor Clinton offers up an immigration law provision he or she would deign to support -- and in these primary debates and town halls, no one asks them to.