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Not much separates California Senate candidates in debate

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Immigration topped the list of issues in a U.S. Senate debate Wednesday in San Francisco between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her opponent state Sen. Kevin de Leon.

The debate was hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California, as part of their Speaker Series on California’s Future.

Feinstein and de Leon also debated, among other issues, dealing with the administration of President Donald Trump.

When asked about immigration reform, Feinstein, who is the lead Democrat on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee said:

“If dems are in the majority, there will be a comprehensible immigration reform plan before our committee.”

She said:

“There is a real need for a major immigration bill and I believe that if Democrats control the U.S. Senate, you will see one come out of the committee and you will see one be passed by the Senate.”

De Leon, the son of Guatemalan nationals, said he would also support to reform immigration:

“I believe that our nation has turned its back on families of immigrants and we have betrayed American children because we have hunted down their mothers and fathers and pursued them with our ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents.”

He said:

“This is an issue obviously that I take very personal. My mother had the courage to cross the border to come to this country and work her fingers to the bone to put a roof over our heads. If it weren’t for her and millions of others like her, because my story is not unique; it’s not original; it’s a story of so many other hardworking immigrants in California. We need to have action in Washington D.C. The cruel reality is that there has been no action for decades,” he said.

When asked about what issues the senators disagreed with the Trump Administration on, Feinstein said:

“I do not believe in separation of children from their parents, I’m strongly against it.”

If re-elected, Feinstein said she and her staff would go look at the facilities where immigrant families, including children, are being placed:

“We need to look at our immigration system and see that it’s humane and fair and is able to be carried out without chaos and without the separation of minor children from their parents.”

When asked the same question, de Leon said he disagreed with the administration on several issues, including climate change, immigration and travel bans:

“It’s been California who’s been the leading voice for the entire nation and that’s why the world looks to California for leadership, not toward Washington D.C. on the issue of climate change, immigration reform because there’s been inaction in Washington, because it’s been so deeply dysfunctional right now.”

Feinstein, a former San Francisco Supervisor and the city’s first female mayor, has served in the U.S. Senate since 1992.

De Leon, a former state Assembly member representing Hollywood and other parts of Los Angeles, was first elected to the state Senate in 2010.

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