Clinton faults Obama for strict deportation

Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton calls deportation enforcement a mistake of the Obama administration
  • "I'm not going to be breaking up families," Clinton said. "And I think that is one of the differences."

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN)Hillary Clinton faulted her former boss, President Barack Obama, for his strict enforcement of deportation laws in a Telemundo interview that aired Monday. She said as president she would be "much less harsh."

Clinton was pressed on immigration during the interview with Maria Celesta Arraras that taped on Friday in Miami, especially on her claim that she would "go further" than Obama on immigration. When asked if she thinks Obama has done everything within his executive power to improve the current immigration system, Clinton cited the President's increased enforcement of deportation laws as a mistake by the administration.
"I think he's done a lot," Clinton said, but added that Obama enforced the deportation laws "very aggressively during the last six and a half years" in part to get Republicans on board with comprehensive immigration reform.
    "It was part of a strategy; I think that strategy is no longer workable," she said. "So therefore I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer."
    Under Obama, U.S. deportations of undocumented immigrants reached a record high in 2013, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The Obama administration deported 438,421 undocumented immigrants that year, up from the previous high of 418,000 in 2012.
    Clinton argued that the country doesn't need to deport undocumented immigrants for minor offenses. Under the Obama administration, she said, "they were hauled in and deported."
    Clinton said that wouldn't happen if she becomes president.
    "I'm not going to be breaking up families," Clinton said. "And I think that is one of the differences. I totally understand why the Obama administration felt as though they did what they did under the circumstances. But I think we've learned that the Republicans, at least the current crop, are just not acting in good faith."
    Ever since she rolled out her immigration plan in May, Clinton has pledged to "do everything possible under the law to go even further" than Obama has gone already to expand undocumented immigrants' rights.
    The White House has rejected the idea that Clinton could go further than Obama has, noting that, in their view, Obama went as far as he could on immigration.
    "There may be a legal explanation that they have that you should ask them about," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in May.
    Clinton was also asked about Republican front-runner Donald Trump during the interview, calling him both "flamboyant" and "aggressively insulting."
    "He is not well versed in the realities that he's talking about," she said about the former businessman, who has suggested rounding up all undocumented immigrants and deporting them.
    When Arraras asked Clinton is she thought Trump was obnoxious, the former secretary of state responded: "Well, that would be a word that might well fit."