Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), now running in the Republican presidential primary, previously said Americans should not describe illegal aliens “as criminals,” suggesting that doing so is “disrespectful.”
In July 2015, a month after then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump announced his candidacy with a speech centered on stemming illegal immigration, Haley joined a panel with the Aspen Institute moderated by then-CEO Walter Isaacson.
Isaacson, in his final question, asked Haley “As a family of immigrants from India, how does that inform your thinking on the immigration debate and what do you feel about the tone of the immigration debate as it has recently turned?”
Haley, in response, said that while Americans are rightfully frustrated with illegal immigration at the United States-Mexico border, she urged the audience not to use language like “criminals” to describe illegal aliens because “they’re not.” She said:
So I think that what we have to remember and what I’ve always believed is that we’re a country of laws. That is what’s made us strong so it’s incredibly frustrating for a lot of people when they see the illegal immigrants being able to come across. It really is astonishing that after all these years, D.C. can’t figure out how to build a wall. It really is, after all of what they spend.
Having said that, we are a country of immigrants. I am the proud daughter of Indian parents who reminded us every day how blessed we are to live in this country. They resent when people come here illegally. But let’s keep in mind, these people who are wanting to come here, they’re wanting to come for a better life too. They have kids too. They have a heart too, so we don’t need to be disrespectful. We don’t need to talk about them as criminals, they’re not. They’re families that want a better life and they’re desperate to get here.
What we need to do is make sure we have a set of laws that we follow and we go through with that. I think that some things have been said that are unfortunate and wrong but I think we also need to remember, especially for all of us … tone and communication matters and people matter. We don’t ever need to talk about this in a cold-hearted way … be kinder than necessary. [Emphasis added]
Haley’s prior comments are contrasted against her recent statements, wherein she has vowed a “catch and deport” policy where the federal government is barred from releasing illegal aliens into the U.S. interior.
“What we need to do is when you catch them, you deport them back from where they came,” Haley told Breitbart News Washington Bureau Chief Matt Boyle in an interview last year.
“You can’t allow them in this country. My parents always said, ‘If someone doesn’t follow the law to come into this country, they won’t follow the law when they get into this country.’ We have got to stop the bleeding,” she said.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter here.