‘Hot-button’ social issues add sizzle to presidential race

Clinton, Trump differ on immigration, guns, gay rights and abortion.


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Immigration is the “hot-button” issue that has grabbed most of the spotlight this election season.

When Donald Trump vowed from the very beginning of his campaign that he would build a wall between the United States and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it, his words set off a bombshell throughout the hemisphere and set a tone for the Republican primary contests that followed.

But the wall has receded some as an issue in the general election campaign and Trump didn’t mention it even once during last week’s presidential debate. Make no mistake, though: Immigration along with guns, gay rights and abortion are smoldering issues in the presidential campaign that matter deeply to voters in both parties. To give you the information you need to make informed choices on Election Day, here is a primer on where the candidates stand on some of those hot-button issues.

Explore>>>RELATED: Trump defends tough stance on immigration
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Immigration

The wall is just one of Trump’s immigration proposals and may not even be his most controversial one. He proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States before later suggesting he would prescribe “extreme vetting” to deny entry to those from countries “compromised by terrorism.”

He originally said he’d deport all the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, although his campaign now says he will prioritize deporting those in gangs.

Trump also would: end birthright citizenship, in which any person born in the United States is automatically a citizen; increase penalties for those who overstay their visas; and make it more difficult for refugees and those seeking asylum to find a haven in the United States. The first proposal apparently would require a change in the constitution; the 14th Amendment appears to guarantee birthright citizenship.

His stances stand in sharp contrast to Clinton’s, who said within her first 100 days in office she would introduce comprehensive immigration reform creating a pathway to citizenship. She said her proposal would protect the borders and national security, but still work to bring millions of immigrants out of the shadows and into the economy.

The former secretary of state has said she will not deport undocumented immigrant children or adults who do not have a criminal record.

Clinton also has said she would enforce current immigration laws humanely, focusing on detaining and deporting people who are considered a threat to public safety. She also would expand access to the Affordable Care Act to allow undocumented immigrants to buy health insurance.

Explore>>>RELATED: How Trump, Clinton immigration plan would affect U.S.

Gun rights

On this issue, Trump and Clinton are polar opposites. Trump states on his website that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon. Period.”

Clinton calls for expanded background checks, reimposing the ban on so-called “assault weapons” and removing both the gun-show and internet-sales loopholes, which allow people to buy guns without a background check.

Clinton wants to revoke licenses for gun dealers who break the law, and she supports laws that stop domestic abusers from buying and owning a gun, as well as making it a federal crime for someone to intentionally buy a gun for a person prohibited from owning one.

Trump argues that gun and magazine bans are “a total failure.”

Explore>>>RELATED: Donald Trump remarks on gun rights spark controversy

“Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice,” he said. “The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.”

He said concealed-carry permits should be valid in all 50 states. “A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed-carry permit should work in every state,” the GOP nominee says.

Trump has said Clinton wants to “abolish” the Second Amendment, a statement fact-checkers have deemed false.

During last week’s debate, Clinton and Trump did seem to agree on one thing: that those on the terrorist watch list should not be able to purchase guns.

LGBT rights

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Clinton said she would continue President Barack Obama’s LGBT-equality executive actions and would push for “full federal equality” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

She said she would end so-called “conversion therapy,” which tries to convert gay and lesbian youths into straight kids. She also has vowed to upgrade the service records of LGBT veterans dismissed because of their sexual orientation, as well as sign the Equality Act, a federal bill that would ban people from being fired or evicted based on sexual orientation.

She also would drop the ban on transgender people openly serving in the military.

While Trump has said little about gay rights on the campaign trail — aside from inviting transgender Caitlyn Jenner to use either gender’s bathroom in Trump Tower, which Jenner obliged — gay-rights groups say they’re more concerned about Trump because of his frequent refrain that he is with “the state” or would “leave issues up to the state.”

For example, Trump said he backs “traditional marriage,” but he would leave it up to states to decide. Critics say that would keep the federal government from fighting such laws as a North Carolina’s requirement that bathroom use must match birth gender.

Gay rights groups are more critical of Trump’s running mate, saying Indiana Gov. Mike Pence opposed the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, which effectively kept gays from serving openly. And Pence, they say, supported Indiana laws that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians.

Abortion and reproductive health care

Explore>>>RELATED: Trump: Women who get abortions should be punished

Clinton says as president, she will fight against attacks on Planned Parenthood and work to keep Republicans from defunding the organization. She says the group is a critical tool in providing health care to women, including cancer screenings and contraception as well as safe and legal abortions.

Clinton said that in the case of late-term abortions, there should be exceptions for the life and health of the mother. And she would call on Congress to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans any taxpayer dollars from going to abortion.

Trump, meanwhile, has had mixed statements on the abortion issue. He seemed to favor the right to an abortion when he called himself “very pro choice” in 1999. But now he opposes abortions except in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger.

In March, he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that women should receive “some form of punishment” for having an abortion and has vowed to protect the Hyde Amendment.

Hours later, Trump reversed himself, saying on his campaign website that “the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”

He also has supported Planned Parenthood, saying it has “done very good work,” but called for its defunding nonetheless.

Trump has listed 21 judges he would consider for the nation’s top court and all are considered anti-abortion.