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Wednesday, 13 January 2016


DES MOINES–Preserving space for herself should she win the White House, Hillary Clinton on Monday refused to rule out deporting undocumented children from the U.S., though she promised to give them a sympathetic hearing and provide “due process.”

Mrs. Clinton laid out her views on immigration at a Democratic presidential candidates forum devoted to issues important to the African-American and Hispanic communities. She and her two rivals for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sandersand former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, took questions from a panel in separate appearances three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

Moderators asked her twice if she would refuse to deport children who arrived in this country illegally and Mrs. Clinton offered the same answer: Everyone would have a chance to make their case for avoiding deportation.

“Let me say this,” she said. “I would give every person, but particularly children, due process and have their story told. And a lot of children will of course have very legitimate stories under our law to be able to stay.”

The Obama administration has faced criticism from civil rights leaders for an initiative to clamp down on Central Americans, including women and children, who came into the country illegally across the southwest border and have evaded deportation orders.

Mrs. Clinton said she opposed the Obama immigration raids. “They are divisive, they are sowing discord and fear,” she said.

But she made clear, in response to the question about how she would treat undocumented children, that she did not want to endorse a “blanket rule” about who would be permitted to stay, thus giving herself more freedom of action if she becomes president.

Mrs. Clinton gave ground on another question. At a town-hall event last year, she used the term “illegal immigrants.” Moderator Jorge Ramos asked her to commit to not using the word “illegal” in describing undocumented immigrants.

Mrs. Clinton agreed. The audience cheered.

She was also asked about a comment she made at that same town-hall meeting: how she voted as a senator to “spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.”

Mr. Ramos asked her how her notion of a wall differed from that of the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, who has called for building an impregnable wall on the Southern border.

In reply, Mrs. Clinton said “we do need to have secure borders.”

“I voted for border security,” she added. “Some of it was a fence. I don’t think we ever called it a wall. Maybe in some places it was a wall. But it was aimed at controlling our borders.”

She distinguished her position from that of Mr. Trump, saying that he calls for both a wall and deporting millions of people living here illegally, “so they’re on the other side of the wall.”

“That to me is not only foolish, it’s offensive,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton favors an immigration overhaul that would provide a path to citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally.


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