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Tue Nov 10, 2015, 01:09 AM

Martin O’Malley highlights his record on immigration during Las Vegas event.

'Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley tried to position himself as the strongest Democratic presidential candidate on immigration during the Fair Immigration Reform Movement forum today at the Linq Hotel.

The former governor highlighted his record from his tenure in Maryland, during which the state began issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and passed a state DREAM Act, which increased college affordability for undocumented students.

“I have an immigrant’s heart. I understand the American immigrant experience. It’s something very dear to me,” O’Malley said. “I will get it done. I am going to throw all my energy into getting it done.”

O’Malley criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying she has let politics get in the way of her support for immigration in the past. He criticized Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for his 2007 comments on Lou Dobbs’ show, in which Sanders implied that immigrants take American jobs.

“I think one has to ask, is this a priority for the two of them because it’s an election year or if it’s because something they truly believe in?” O’Malley said at a press conference after the event.

O’Malley also took another dig at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall at the Mexican border, saying, “The enduring symbol of our nation is not the barbed wire fence, but the Statue of Liberty.”

Repeatedly stating that immigration is “not a constituency issue,” O’Malley argued for broad support for immigration reform, saying that it is in the best economic interest of the entire country.

“We need to listen to the echos of failed thinking,” O’Malley said. “By that, I mean the failed thinking and the falsehood that’s come out that new American immigrants take our jobs or the equally self-defeating thinking that this is merely a constituency issue, over here someplace, that’s a distraction from our national interest.”

O’Malley reiterated his commitment to expanding on the executive actions issued by President Barack Obama almost a year ago and extending the Affordable Care Act to cover undocumented immigrants, to sustained applause from the audience.

This wasn’t the first time O’Malley drummed up support for his immigration reform plan in Las Vegas. Last month, O’Malley spoke at a Hispanics and Politics breakfast, in which he similarly outlined and defended his plan.

At the forum, O’Malley also announced that he will be rolling out “a new agenda for American cities” this week that will support investments in mass transit, affordable workforce housing and a clean electrical grid, though he declined to itemize the specifics of that plan.

All Republican and Democratic presidential candidates were invited to the forum, hosted by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and The Nation magazine, but only O’Malley and Sanders confirmed attendance. Sanders will speak at 11 a.m. Monday.'


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