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Hillary Clinton Facebook Q&A: Clinton Admits 'Poor Choice of Words' After Saying 'Illegal' Immigrant at Campaign Stop

First Posted: Nov 24, 2015 04:18 PM EST
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Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton responded to criticism of using the term “illegal” during a campaign stop.

During a Facebook "Q&A" session through Noticias Telemundo, Clinton said she will make a commitment to not use the term "illegal" when referencing undocumented immigrants. Clinton, who was responding to Jose Antonio Vargas -- an undocumented immigrant journalist and founder of Define American -- had used the term "illegal immigrant" during a New Hampshire campaign stop on Nov. 9.

On early Tuesday afternoon, Vargas wrote many leaders and the media have refrained from saying "illegal immigrant" since, as he explained, it is "an offensive term." Vargas said words do matter and called on all presidential candidates to not use "illegal" when referencing the undocumented population.

"Yes, I will," replied Clinton in regards to the request to no longer use the term "illegal immigrant."

"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. I've talked about undocumented immigrants hundreds of times and fought for years for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will continue to do so.

"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."

Clinton also responded to the Latino and immigrant rhetoric made by Republican presidential candidates, especially by Donald Trump. The former secretary of state wrote to Monica Villavicencio she has one word for 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," Clinton wrote. "Now he's saying maybe it's ok for peaceful protestors to get 'roughed up.' Violence is never, ever acceptable."

Clinton also used one of her campaign lines, that many other Republican candidates have similar policies as Trump but "without the pizazz or the hair." Clinton has used the "pizzazz" and "hair" remark during a speech at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding dinner and a campaign stop in August.

"They (the GOP candidates) don't support a real path to citizenship. And you're right: When they talk about 'legal status,' that's code for 'second class status.' That's why it's so important to organize, volunteer, vote, and win this election. That's the only way we're going to get the comprehensive immigration reform we need," Clinton added in her response to Villavicencio.

Responding to Marcello Bonucci's question about immigration reform solutions and executive actions, Clinton said the Supreme Court should hear the Obama administration's appeal to implement the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs.

"The President's actions were in keeping with law and precedent -- and they should be implemented immediately," Clinton wrote, adding that the Republicans trying to block or ease DAPA and DACA's expanded guidelines "are wrong and we need to stop them."

"We shouldn't be breaking up families, so I'll fight to protect DAPA. I've fought for comprehensive immigration reform in the past and will do everything under the law to protect, expand, and enhance protections as president."

The questions were not exclusive to the immigration debate. On student loan debt, Clinton told Lazaro Jimena education costs and debt should not serve as obstacles for anyone who wants to attend college.

"College attendance among Latinos is at an all-time high. But I worry that Latino college students are less likely to enroll in a four-year college, that almost 67 [percent] of Latino students leave school with significant student debt, and that too many students start college but don't have the support they need to complete their degree," Clinton wrote.

She highlighted her "College Compact" education plan that would make community college tuition-free and allow people to refinance their student debt.

In response to Tiana Trejo's question about the current wage gap, Clinton said she is appalled that Latinas earn less than white men.

"When you short-change women, you short-change families -- and short-change America. There are a number of reasons behind this significant wage gap, including discrimination. As president, I will work to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that would allow workers to talk about their salaries openly without fear of retribution," Clinton wrote, adding she'll fight to pass the minimum wage and ensure women have access to high-quality and affordable childcare."

During the second Democratic presidential debate, Clinton said she favors increasing the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour. Her fellow Democratic challengers, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley favor an increase to $15. Although Clinton stood firm at $12, she said the states will still have the option to increase beyond $12.

Clinton told Martin Ochoa that wage increases is the centerpiece of her economic plan. She also proposes investments in infrastructure and clean energy, while not increasing taxes for middle-class families.

"I've proposed tax cuts to help families afford college, health care, and caring for an elderly relative. We can do better, especially for our hard-working Latino families who do everything to get ahead," wrote Clinton.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) said Clinton's Facebook Q&A with Noticias Telemundo demonstrated her "hypocrisy" towards the Latino community.

In a statement, RNC Hispanic Media Director Ruth Guerra said, "When Hillary Clinton thinks Latinos are not around she will brag about voting for a border fence and even use the term 'illegal immigrant,' yet in front of Latinos she criticizes such efforts and laments her previous words. Hillary Clinton's hypocrisy knows no bounds, she will do or say anything to get elected."

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For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Politics Editor Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: m.oleaga@latinpost.com.

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