The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Clinton predicts Democrats likely to retake Senate, says landscape good for passing immigration overhaul

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at the National Association of Black Journalists' and National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Hall of Fame Luncheon in Washington on Aug. 5. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Democrats have a strong chance to retake the Senate in November and narrow their margin  in the House, improving the odds to pass a broad overhaul of immigration laws, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said Friday.

"I want this to be a clear high priority for my administration," Clinton said of changes that would include a path to citizenship for undocumented people. The election should help, she said.

"I'm hoping that the outcome of the election, which I am working hard to ensure [is] a victory, will send a clear message to our Republican friends that it's time for them to quit standing in the way of immigration reform," she said during questions from reporters at a gathering in D.C. of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

"There’s nothing like winning to change minds," Clinton said, adding that the "political landscape" favors passage of the long-shelved legislation.

"I think, No. 1, we have a good  chance of having a Democratic Senate," Clinton said. "I  believe we will pick up some seats in the House and at least, if not take it back, narrow the numbers."

Under that scenario, legislation that failed in 2013 would now pass, she predicted.

Clinton promised to defend President Obama's efforts to use executive action to protect some illegal immigrants from deportation, close private sector detention centers and to "take a very hard look at the deportation policies" now in force.

Obama has been heavily criticized by Hispanics and others for aggressive deportation efforts that critics say target the wrong people and break up families. Clinton said her priorities for deportation will be criminals and anyone associated with terrorism.

"We are not going to be deporting hardworking people and breaking up  families," Clinton said. "I've been on record for a year-and-a-half about this, and that will be how I direct the Department of Homeland Security to act."