Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that a reference she made to “illegal immigrants” during a campaign event in New Hampshire earlier this month was a “poor choice of words.”
Clinton was asked about her remarks by immigration activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas during a question-and-answer session on Facebook hosted by Telemundo, the Spanish-language TV network.
“Madame Secretary, in speaking at a campaign stop about immigration reform, you recently referred to “illegal immigrants” — an offensive term that many leaders and media have abandoned in recent years,” Vargas began.
“I am asking all the presidential candidates to recognize that #wordsmatter by committing to not using the term ‘illegal’ when referencing the undocumented population. Will you make that commitment?” he asked.
“Yes, I will,” Clinton responded, adding that “that was a poor choice of words.”
During a town hall event in New Hampshire on Nov. 9, Clinton cited her past support for a border “barrier” as evidence that she is not soft on illegal immigration.
“Look, I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in,” Clinton said during the town hall. (RELATED: Hillary Brags About Her Votes In Favor Of Building A ‘Barrier’ At Southern Border)
“I do think you have to control your borders.”
While Clinton has supported comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, she has at times throughout her political career adopted more conservative positions on the issue.
She’s also flip-flopped on specific policy issues. In an attempt to run to the right of then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton, then a senator from New York, changed her position on providing driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. Clinton was initially for it, but changed her mind during the campaign.
In 2003, Clinton said during a radio interview that she was “adamantly against illegal immigrants.” She said then that “certainly we’ve got to do more at our borders” and that “people have to stop employing illegal immigrants.”
During her current White House bid, however, Clinton has moved far to the left on the issue. Her stump speeches are largely absent of any mention of beefing up border security or fighting to stop more illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. Instead, she’s portrayed the issue in humanitarian terms and, in defending her proposal to go even farther than Obama’s executive actions to provide amnesty to illegal aliens, says that she wants to keep illegal alien families living in the U.S. intact.
“As I’ve said throughout this campaign, the people at the heart of this issue are children, parents, families, DREAMers,” Clinton said in response to Vargas’ question on Tuesday. “They have names, and hopes and dreams that deserve to be respected.”