Though you wouldn’t know it from her remarks earlier this week, Hillary Clinton was once “adamantly” against illegal immigration and was for erecting a border fence similar to one that protects Israel.
“I am adamantly against illegal immigrants,” then-Sen. Clinton said on the John Grambling radio show in Feb. 2003.
“Certainly we’ve got to do more at our borders,” she said, adding that, “people have to stop employing illegal immigrants.”
The interview was unearthed and released by the Republican National Committee on Thursday.
“Come up to Westchester, go to Suffolk and Nassau counties,” Clinton continued. “Stand in the street corners in Brooklyn or the Bronx. You’re going to see loads of people waiting to get picked up to get yard work, and construction work, and domestic work.”
Those remarks are remnants of a distant political past for Clinton, who unveiled her new stance on immigration at a roundtable discussion at a Las Vegas high school on Tuesday. Clinton called for a path to citizenship for all and said that she would act unilaterally to extend amnesty to many more undocumented immigrants in the country.
Notably absent from her remarks this week was the issue of border security.
In 2006, she told the New York Daily News that while she favored a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, she also wanted to build a fence in some areas along the southern border.
“A country that cannot control its borders is failing at one of its fundamental obligations,” she told the New York Daily News in April 2006.
“There is technology that would be in the fence that could spot people coming from 250 or 300 yards away and signal patrol agents who could respond,” she continued, while suggesting that the U.S. could model its fence after the one protecting Israel.
But Clinton did not utter the words “border” or “fence” during her remarks Tuesday. She also did not speak of opposing “illegal immigrants” or “illegal immigration” as she did in 2003.
Instead, she listened thoughtfully to several students that took part in the roundtable event who said they bristled at being described as “illegal.”
While Clinton did as expected and called for a path to citizenship, she went much further than expected in her remarks.
“There are more people, like many parents of DREAMers and others, with deep ties and contributions to our communities who deserve a chance to stay, and I will fight for them,” Clinton said at the event, held at Las Vegas’ Rancho High School on Tuesday.
In calling for amnesty for the parents of so-called DREAMers — children who are protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — Clinton is staking out a position even more extreme than what President Obama has proposed.
Obama has said that he his executive actions on amnesty go as far as the law will allow. On top of 2012’s DACA, Obama announced in November that he was acting unilaterally to grant amnesty under Deferred Actions for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).
But Clinton indicated on Tuesday that she believes there is still wiggle-room under the law to do more.
“If Congress continues to refuse to act, as president, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further,” she said.