On the 2008 campaign trail, Hillary Clinton saying that she wanted to “keep track” of immigrants coming to the United States.
Video of her past statements has surfaced as Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson face scrutiny for allegedly calling for databases to track potential terrorists entering the U.S.,
The video, which was recorded at a campaign event in Iowa in Nov. 2007, also shows Clinton staking out a position on illegal immigration that is starkly at odds with the much more liberal policies she’s adopted for her 2016 White House bid.
“I feel really strongly about this because, you know, some of those hijackers who flew those planes into the World Trade Center, they came here legally, and then they overstayed. So they were here illegally and we didn’t have a clue,” Clinton says in the video, which was posted on The New York Times website in 2007 and published Tuesday by Breitbart News.
“I want to know who’s in this country. I want to keep track of them. So bring them out of the shadows,” Clinton continued.
It is not clear from Clinton’s remarks whether she was calling for beefing up the systems that keep track of people entering the U.S. But it is also not exactly clear what GOP frontrunners Trump and Carson had in mind when they recently called for surveillance to prevent terrorist attacks.
Trump became the center of the firestorm last week when he was accused of calling for special databases to track Muslims coming into the U.S. But the real estate billionaire denied that he called for a database and said that his comments were taken out of context by a reporter.
Whatever Trump’s and Carson’s thoughts on tracking immigrants are, Clinton’s comments on the campaign trail eight years ago are at clear odds with her current campaign rhetoric.
While Clinton issued her normal call for comprehensive immigration reform during the Nov. 2007 town hall, she said then that reform was a non-starter without addressing border security.
“First, you’ve got to toughen border security,” Clinton said then. “You can’t continue to have open borders,” she continued, calling for more personnel and technology to protect the borders.
“That to me has got to be priority one,” she said.
The second priority in achieving comprehensive immigration reform, Clinton said, was cracking down on employers who employ undocumented workers. She called for “much tougher sanctions and much tougher penalties.”
Border security and sanctions on employers are largely absent from Clinton’s current campaign stump speeches.
The language Clinton used to discuss illegal immigration then was also drastically different from the sympathetic tone she’s adopted for her 2016 White House bid.
“They’re everywhere in America,” Clinton said of illegal immigrants during the Iowa event. “The way things are now, they’re basically just being given a chance to do whatever they want to because we don’t have an immigration law.”
Claiming that deporting the millions of illegal aliens in the U.S. would be impossible to accomplish and turn the country into a police state, Clinton asserted that “therefore, you’ve got to give them some sanctions, penalties, fines, but bring them out so we can know who’s here.”
But she hastened to add: “If they ever commit a crime, either the country they came from or in this country, deport them immediately, no questions asked.”
“If they’ve been here and are lawful, then I think they’ve got to pay fines. They’ve got to pay back taxes. They’ve got to try to learn English, and they’ve got to wait in line. And they have to stay out of trouble, and keep working, and be law-abiding, and maybe in 10 or 15 years they can get legalization.”
Clinton no longer calls for the English-language requirement for citizenship. She has also backed away from calling for immediate deportation for illegal aliens who commit crimes.
She’s said that she supports the Obama administration’s enforcement policies.
Last November, the Obama administration enacted a priority enforcement policy which prioritizes only violent criminals and national security threats for immediate deportation.