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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders gives a press conference near the U.S.-Mexico international border in Nogales, Ariz., Saturday, March 19, 2016. He focused on immigration and said he would fight for immigration reform. (AP Photo/Astrid Galvan)
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Bernie Sanders: US needs immigration reform, not a wall on Mexico border

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders gives a press conference near the U.S.-Mexico international border in Nogales, Ariz., Saturday, March 19, 2016. He focused on immigration and said he would fight for immigration reform. (AP Photo/Astrid Galvan)

LISTEN: Bernie Sanders

PHOENIX — Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said the United States needs to focus on comprehensive immigration reform rather than building a wall on the border with Mexico.

“I don’t think you need a wall that goes from one end of the country to the other,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Monday.

Sanders said, instead of the oft-touted wall suggested by Republican front-runner Donald Trump, the United States could instead update the border with more modern security — including heat sensors — and increase manpower to secure it.

Sanders said a border wall would do nothing more than isolate a trade partner and ally.

“We’ve got to understand that Mexico is a longtime ally of ours,” he said. “We share a lot with them, economically and in many other ways and a wall, in my view, is definitely not the answer.”

The Vermont senator said “comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship for 11 million undocumented people” is more important than focusing on a hypothetical wall.

“Immigration reform is an absolute imperative,” he said. “The current system is simply not working for anybody.”

During a visit to the Arizona-Mexico border over the weekend, Sanders said he would take executive action in his first 100 days in office that would allow all undocumented people to stay in the U.S. for five years without fear of deportation.

“In my view, we’ve got to take 11 million undocumented people out of the shadows, out of fear,” he told Mac & Gaydos.

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