Probable Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton broke with President Obama on a key policy issue Tuesday, claiming the unprecedented number of illegal children flooding into the United States must be deported and returned to their families in Central America.
For years, parents in crime-ridden Central American nations have been sending their children up through Mexico alone to cross the American border.
Driven in part by rhetoric emanating from the White House, these parents believe their children will be safe in the United States and won’t be turned away.
But thousands of these young people — many mere toddlers — die while trekking through Central America and Mexico on their own.
The flood recently became too much for the White House to hide, spilling into warehouses run by the Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security and a partnership of other public and private agencies. And the deluge shows no signs of abating.
President Obama and Vice President Biden have both shied away from solutions to the problem. But in a CNN town hall broadcast on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton diverged significantly from her former boss.
“Hard choice,” asked CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “Let them stay in the United States or send them back?”
“Well, two quick points,” the former secretary of state replied. “One, the numbers are increasing dramatically. And the main reason I believe why that’s happening is that the violence in certain of those Central American countries is increasing dramatically.”
“Should they be able to stay here?” Amanpour pressed. “It’s safer.”
“Well, it — it may be safer, but that’s not the answer,” Clinton responded.
“So should they be sent back?” Amanpour continued.
“Well, first of all, we have to provide the best emergency care we can provide,” Clinton said. “We have children 5 and 6 years old who have come up from Central America. We need to do more to provide border security in southern Mexico –”
“So you’re saying they should be sent back now,” Amanpour asserted.
“Well, they should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,” Clinton admitted. “There are concerns about whether all of them should be sent back, but I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families.”
“We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay,” Hillary declared. “So we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws, or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.”