Las Vegas, Nevada — Hillary Clinton explained why undocumented immigrants shouldn't have healthcare subsidies  and Bernie Sanders defended his 2007 anti-immigrant vote. Jim Webb didn’t get too far past explaining that his wife was a refugee, and Lincoln Chafee barely breathed a word about immigration. Martin O’Malley failed to articulate his detailed immigration plan, referring to the issue tangentially. Despite trying to nail the Republican party to a Trump cross over his controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants, Democrats didn’t dig very deep on Tuesday.

The immigration discussion started when CNN En Español’s Juan Carlos Lopez pressed Bernie Sanders on his 2007 vote against an immigration reform bill. Why, Lopez asked, should Latinos vote for Sanders when he “left them at the altar?”

Bernie Sanders

“I didn't leave anybody at the altar. I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they're working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they're thrown out of the country.

“My view right now -- and always has been -- is that when you have 11 million undocumented people in this country, we need comprehensive immigration reform, we need a path toward citizenship, we need to take people out of the shadows.”

What Sanders didn’t mention is that a guest-worker bill is favored by moderate Republicans like Jeb Bush. On one hand worker visa program might be easier to pass. If such a bill had passed in 2007, it’s possible that less immigrants would “be in the shadows.”

On the other hand, Sanders hasn’t really differentiated himself from Hillary Clinton on immigration. They basically support the same policies, except for guest worker visas. But Sanders has been labeled as being “anti-immigrant” in the past for explaining that position.

Instead of trying to “out raise” Clinton on immigration, he’s trying to match her, while portraying himself as more in tune with minority voters. He spoke at length about African-Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement, and was the only candidate to mention Latinos directly, quoting a statistic in his opening remarks.

“African-American youth unemployment is 51 percent. Hispanic youth unemployment is 36 percent,” he said.

Sanders did not explain how his immigration policy might differ from his rivals. What are those subtle differences? Many have not been articulated by the Democratic candidates.

Lincoln Chafee

Didn’t say a word about immigration, despite having helped author the 2007 immigration bill that Sanders rejected. Here’s what he’s said in the past.

Hillary Clinton

On concrete difference on immigration lie between Clinton and O’Malley. The later wants to make undocumented immigrants eligible for subsidies under Obamacare. In the past, he’s argued that letting them go uninsured is more expensive in the long run.

Hillary disagrees with O’Malley’s position, and says that that undocumented adults should not be eligible for Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act.

“First of all, I want to make sure every child gets healthcare, that's why I helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and I want to support states that are expanding healthcare and including undocumented children and others. I want to open up the opportunity for immigrants to be able to buy into the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

“I think to go beyond that, as I understand what Governor O'Malley has recommended so that they would get the same subsidies, I think that raises so many issues, it would be very difficult to administer. It needs to be part of comprehensive reform when we get to it.”

Martin O’Malley

The former Maryland Gov. didn’t get a lot of mileage on his immigration plan during the debate, failing to distinguish himself on the issue despite aggressive campaigning and policy proposals in recent months. Immigrants did get a nod from the candidate, but usually they were lumped with others, as in his closing statement.

“On this stage you didn't hear anyone denigrate women, you didn't hear anyone make racist comments about new American immigrants, you didn't hear anyone speak ill of another American because of their religious belief,” he said.

Jim Webb

“My wife, Hong, came to this country as a refugee from war torn Vietnam -- learned English, a language that was not spoken at home, and earned her way into Cornell Law School,” Webb told the Las Vegas audience in his opening statement.

Webb’s wife’s story may be compelling, but his statements didn’t set him apart on immigration. Refugees -- certainly Vietnamese asylum seekers -- are far from controversial. We're waiting to find out where he sands on the tougher questions. 

Debate viewers likely can't tell you how the Democrats differ on immigration. It appears that it will take more debates, along with more detailed policy proposals, to ferret out exactly where, if anywhere the Democrat’s views on immigration diverge.