(CNSNews.com) - Hillary Clinton says "no," she is not going to be the next deporter-in-chief, a nickname given to President Obama by a Latino group that opposes deportations.
The issue came to a head over the holidays, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement began rounding up and deporting adults with children who entered this country illegally after May 2014. "This should come as no surprise," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. "I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed."
The raids prompted outrage among some Democrats and their Hispanic allies.
"I have come out against the raids," Clinton told Fusion Monday night. "I do not think the raids are an appropriate tool to enforce the immigration laws. In fact, I think they are divisive, they are sowing discord and fear.
"And I also have come out in favor of guaranteeing that unaccompanied children have government-sponsored counsel, so that as they go through the process, they will not be lost in the process, confused by the process, and will have a chance to tell their story."
Clinton said Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform. "But how we implement our immigration laws does have some ability for the executive to make choices. And I would prioritize criminals, people who are plotting or planning or taking action that is against our public safety or our property -- those are the kinds of people who would be on my list."
Those people are on the Obama administration's list of deportables, along with recent border crossers.
In a Jan. 4, 2016 statement, DHS Secretary Johnson said those deported over the holidays included adults and their children who (i) were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally, (ii) have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court, and (iii) have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws."
Johnson said 121 individuals were taken into custody, mainly from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. Most of the families were taken to one of ICE's family residential centers for temporary processing before being issued travel documents and boarding a return flight to their home countries.
Clinton was asked by Fusion's Jorge Ramos to promise that she will not deport children or non-criminal aliens.
"Here's what I can promise, Jorge. I can promise that I will do everything possible to provide due process. We have to change the immigration, asylum and refugee laws. And right now, until we do, we have to try to figure out how we can handle this very large group, predomimamtly women and children, who are coming North. So we have to bbe sensitive and humane in the application of our laws."
Clinton said she would give every person, and particularly children, due process to have their story told.
"And a lot of children will of course have very legitimate stories under our law to be able to stay. And I'm going to end private detention centers, I'm going to end family detention, both of which I think are not in keeping with our values as Americans.
"I cannot sit here and tell you I have a blanket rule about who-- or who won't ever be let into the country to stay, because it has to be done individually by individually. What I don't like are the mass roundups, and the raids that just pick people up and send them off in the middle of the night, and that should end."
Clinton also said the nation must do more to help Central American nations deal with the crime, drugs and gangs that are tearing apart their societies and prompting citizens to flee north.
"We need to focus in particular on Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador."