Some prominent immigration rights advocates have taken aim at Hillary Clinton for her choice of words when discussing illegal immigration during a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Monday.
“Is it true that yesterday @HillaryClinton called immigrants “illegal”? #wordsmatter @DefineAmerican,” tweeted Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize winning former journalists turned immigration rights advocate.
Clinton’s comments on Monday, which also included touting her work funding border fences during her Senate tenure, demonstrate the difficult time Clinton has faced trying to balance both sides of the immigration debate.
“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,” she said during the town hall. “And I do think you have to control your borders.”
The advocates took issue of her use of the term “illegal immigrants,” which some advocates feel is offensive because it implies that the individual instead of the act is illegal.
The Democratic presidential candidate has most recently been trying to woo immigrant voters with a more sympathetic tone and policy promises. In the past, Clinton has said she was “adamantly against illegal immigrants.” But now she says she wants to stop deportations, provide a path to citizenship for those people here illegally and give them driver’s licenses.
“For me this is about what kind of people we all are and what kind of country we all have,” she said at an immigration town hall meeting in Las Vegas last May.
The campaign for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is running for president against Clinton, took the opportunity to attack Clinton for her comments on Monday.
“It is flat-out wrong to hear Secretary Clinton echo failed policy and sentiments that are more at home in the Republican Party, especially when their field is fueled by intolerance and false hysteria towards immigration,” said O’Malley for President spokeswoman Gabi Domenzain.