Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton admitted Tuesday that her recent use of the term “illegal immigrants” was “a poor choice of words,” and pledged to stop using the word “illegal” when referring to immigrants.
“That was a poor choice of words. As I’ve said throughout this campaign, the people at the heart of this issue are children, parents, families, DREAMers. They have names, and hopes and dreams that deserve to be respected,” Clinton said during a Facebook Q&A with Noticias Telemundo, an NBC-affiliated Spanish-language network.
Clinton was heavily criticized for using the phrase at a recent campaign stop in Windham, New Hampshire, where she said, “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.”
Her comments came on the same day her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders released an immigration plan and vowed to make the issue a top priority should he be elected president.
In response to a question from immigration rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas on Facebook, Clinton added, “I’ve talked about undocumented immigrants hundreds of times and fought for years for comprehensive immigration reform.”
The former secretary of state received several questions about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his treatment of immigrants during his campaign. One woman wrote in Spanish that she hoped Clinton would defend the undocumented population because Trump “treats immigrants like second-class citizens.”
Clinton replied, “I have just one word for Mr. Trump: Basta. Enough is enough. He’s been trafficking in prejudice and paranoia and it’s bad for our politics and bad for our country.”
She also called out Trump for his recent comments about a Black Lives Matter protestor who was reportedly physically assaulted at a campaign event. Trump said Sunday on Fox News that “maybe he should have been roughed up” for interrupting his rally in Birmingham, Alabama.
“Now he’s saying maybe it’s OK for peaceful protesters to get ‘roughed up.’ Violence is never, ever acceptable,” Clinton wrote on Facebook.
Clinton answered several other questions on comprehensive immigration reform and the economy, emphasizing that “we are a country built by immigrants and our diversity makes us stronger as a nation - it’s something to be proud of, celebrate, and defend.”