Clinton says her use of term ‘illegal immigrant’ was a ‘poor choice of words’

Story highlights

Clinton used the term during a town hall earlier this month in Windham, New Hampshire

Clinton also took on Republican front-runner Donald Trump in the largely immigration-focused chat

Boulder, Colorado CNN  — 

Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that her use of the term “illegal immigrant” at a town hall in New Hampshire earlier this month was a “poor choice of words.”

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“That was a poor choice of words,” Clinton wrote during a Facebook chat. “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.”

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She added during the chat, which was sponsored by Telemundo, that she has “talked about undocumented immigrants hundreds of times” throughout the campaign and “fought for years for comprehensive immigration reform.”

During a town hall earlier this month in Windham, New Hampshire, Clinton gave a more conservative answer on immigration and controlling the United States’ southern border.

“Well, 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,” Clinton said. “And I do think you have to control your borders.”

The comment was in response to a question about “securing the Mexican border” and “illegal immigrants that come in.”

Clinton also said in her answer that “it is just never going to happen that we’re going to round-up and deport 11 or 12 million. I don’t care how tall the wall is or how big the door is, that is never going to happen.”

O’Malley seeks to outflank Clinton on immigration

Clinton’s “illegal immigrants” comments drew fire from former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, one of her Democratic opponents, who regularly uses the term “new American” to describe the group.

“Before one audience, she will talk about immigration reform and the need for it,” O’Malley said on KLRU’s Overheard With Evan Smith in Austin, Texas earlier this month. “Before another audience, she’ll use the term illegal immigrants and boast about having voted to build a wall and barbed-wire fence.”

Trump outlines immigration specifics

Clinton also took on Republican front-runner Donald Trump in the largely immigration-focused chat, telling a questioner that the businessman has “been trafficking in prejudice and paranoia and it’s bad for our politics and bad for our country.”

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“Now he’s saying maybe it’s OK for peaceful protestors to get ‘roughed up,’” Clinton wrote, referencing a recent incident in which Trump didn’t disavow event attendees that punched and kicked a protester at one of his events. “Violence is never, ever acceptable.”