Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton attempted to link her Republican counterpart, Jeb Bush, with other GOP presidential candidates who have staked out positions against immigration reform.
In her first sit-down television interview since as a candidate, Clinton told CNN that the 2016 Republican field ranges “across a spectrum of being either grudgingly welcome or hostile toward immigrants.”
She also took aim at Bush, arguing that the former Florida governor’s position on immigration is “regrettable.”
“He doesn’t believe in a path to citizenship,” she said. “If he did at one time, he no longer does.”
Bush has walked a fine line on immigration. In a 2013 book he called for allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain permanent residency but not citizenship, though he later supported a bipartisan Senate bill that included a path to citizenship. In recent remarks, he’s backed a legal status short of citizenship.
Clinton, meantime, has made immigration reform a central part of her platform, saying that she supports a full path to citizenship for undocumented workers and that she would go farther than President Obama in using executive actions to protect illegal immigrants from deportation.
Bush spokeswoman Emily Benavides criticized Clinton for the comments, noting that as a U.S. Senator in 2007 she voted for a so-called “poison pill” amendment that helped derail immigration reform under President George W. Bush.
“Hillary Clinton has once again changed her position on an issue for politically expedient purposes. After voting for the poison pill amendment that stopped immigration reform in its tracks as a Senator and saying she believed the unaccompanied minors ‘should be sent back’ to their home countries last year, she is now running further to the left on immigration policy than even President Obama’s White House believes is legally feasible,” she said in a statement.
During the interview, Clinton also denounced GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has faced fire since he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals” during his campaign launch last month. She said she was “very disappointed” with the business mogul, who previously donated to her Senate campaign and the Clinton Foundation.
But Clinton turned just as much fire on the Republican field overall, arguing it was not welcoming enough toward immigrants.
In the CNN interview, Clinton also denounced Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants, whom the real estate mogul last month called “rapists” and “criminals.” Clinton said she was “very disappointed” with Trump, who donated to her Senate campaign and the Clinton Foundation.
“I think that’s a mistake,” she said. “I think that we know we’re not going to deport 11 million or 12 million people. We shouldn’t be breaking up families. We shouldn’t be stopping people from having the opportunity to be fully integrated legally within our country.”