Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended President Barack Obamas deportation practices at a town hall event hosted by CNN on Tuesday, saying that the president is limited on what he can do to protect undocumented immigrants from getting deported.
We have to understand the difficulty that President Obama finds himself in, because there are laws that impose certain obligations on him, Clinton said in response to a questioner who said Obama has come to be known as the deporter-in-chief among Latinos.
With Congress stalled on immigration reform, Obama has been receiving a lot of pressure from advocates to take executive action to curve the number of deportations. The president has indicated he is willing to use his executive powers to address deportations if Congress doesnt pass immigration reform legislation this year.
When Clinton was asked what she would do about deportations if she were to re-enter politics, she began to respond by stressing her support for immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
She went on to say that deportation numbers have been moderating because the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement officials understand the horror of having children come home to an empty house when their undocumented parents are detained.
That is just not who we are as Americans, said Clinton, who hasnt yet said if she is running for president in 2016.
She added that while its important to continue making the case for immigration reform, its also important to show humanity toward undocumented immigrants whom she said are working and contributing to the U.S.
Clinton was also asked about the unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors caught trying to cross the border to come to the U.S. She said the main reason why she thinks more unaccompanied minors are coming to the U.S. than ever before is because the violence in Central America is increasing dramatically.
When asked whether the unaccompanied minors should be able to stay in the U.S. where it could be safer for them, Clinton responded: It may be safer, but thats not the answer.
They should be sent back as soon it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns about whether all of them can be sent back, she said. But I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families.
Clinton added, We have to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesnt mean the child gets to stay. So, we dont want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.