Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered her strongest statements on immigration policy yet in a town hall Thursday, and told voters if she is elected, her administration would prioritize reforming immigration policies and push Congress to pass legislation.
Clinton told the audience at a Las Vegas town hall that she would work to revise immigration laws in her first 100 days in office, including changes that could affect 11 million illegal immigrants living in the shadows.
"This is at the top of the list," Clinton told the crowd. "It's going to be introduced, and then I'm going to work as hard as I can to make sure we get it moved through the congressional process. I can control the introduction of legislation, but Congress has to get its act in gear. That's why we need to elect a Democratic senate so we have some friends."
Her rival Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, said back in November that he would make immigration a priority in his first three months in office, and said he'd even pursue executive action like President Obama has. But Clinton remained silent on the issue until her Las Vegas event, and stopped short of promising executive action.
Clinton's strengthened message comes less than two days before Nevada's Democratic voters hit the polls to cast their choice in the primary. Thirteen percent of the voting bloc is Latino, higher than other early primary states. Since the majority of the nation's illegal population are Central American, the issue of immigration is an important one to many.
Clinton's doubling down on immigration could help her in Nevada, after she won by less than 1 percentage point in Iowa's Feb. 1 caucus and lost to Sanders in New Hampshire's Feb. 9 primary. The candidates are neck-in-neck among likely Democratic voters in the Silver State, according to the most recent polls.
"With more than 194,000 Nevada Latino voters expected to cast ballots this year, there is no doubt that the Silver State's Latino electorate will play a decisive role in electing our nation's next president," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.
Since 55 percent of the state's Hispanics are left-leaning, a considerable number of delegates are up for seizing in Saturday's caucuses.
This story was updated at 8:47 p.m.