In a new interview with the Spanish-language TV channel Telemundo on Monday, Hillary Clinton blamed her former boss, President Obama, for an aggressive deportation enforcement policy which she said unfairly breaks up families.
“I think he’s done a lot,” Clinton told Telemundo’s Maria Celesta Arraras, of Obama’s work on immigration, which included two executive actions granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. But the Democratic presidential candidate also faulted Obama, saying that “deportation laws were interpreted and enforced very aggressively during the last six-and-a-half years.”
While conservatives have hammered Obama over his unilateral immigration actions, progressives have also cited the record number of deportations that have occurred during his tenure.
In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security deported more than 438,000 illegal aliens, an all-time high.
Clinton pinned the administration’s aggressive enforcement on political maneuvering, saying that the Obama administration was trying “to get Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform.”
“It was part of a strategy,” Clinton said, adding that, “I think that strategy is no longer workable.”
“So therefore I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer.”
Clinton also said that too many people convicted of minor crimes have been deported, a stance that the Obama administration has also embraced through a tiered deportation priority scheme.
“I have met too many people in our country who are upright, productive people who maybe had some minor offense like, maybe they were arrested for speeding or they had some kind of one incident of drunk driving, something like that, 25 years ago and they were hauled in and deported,” Clinton said.
“I just don’t believe in that.”
Shortly after announcing her presidential candidacy in May, Clinton said that she would go beyond Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Those fiats granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who were brought to the U.S. as children — so-called DREAMers — and the parents of citizens and permanent residents. Clinton proposed granting amnesty to the parents of DREAMers.
The Obama administration responded to that proposal saying that it believes it had exhausted all legal options on acting unilaterally.
“There may be a legal explanation that they have that you should ask them about,” White House press secretary Joshua Earnest told reporters in May.
“I will make sure that the executive orders are still in place,” Clinton told Arraras in the Telemundo interview, which was taped Friday. “I will immediately defend those executive orders in court. I will immediately tell whoever is appointed to the Department of Homeland Security and [U.S. Customs and Immigration Services] to take a hard look about how we can change the way the laws are applied without breaking up families.”