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July 28, 2014 9:22 AM HRC and the Refugees

By Ed Kilgore

This morning at the Plum Line, Greg Sargent draws attention to an interview Hillary Clinton conducted with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos over the weekend positioning herself somewhat differently than the president on the refugee crisis on the border:

Clinton came out against any changes to the 2008 trafficking law, which Republicans are seeking to expedite deportations of arriving minors as a condition for supporting any aide to address the debacle.
“I don’t agree that we should change the law,” Clinton told Ramos. She added that she wanted a more strenuous effort to distinguish between “migrant” children and “refugees,” to ensure that those who genuinely qualify for humanitarian relief in the U.S. obtain it. “I’m advocating an appropriate procedure, well funded by the Congress, which they are resisting doing, so that we can make individual decisions,” Clinton said. “We should be setting up a system in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, to screen kids over there, before they get in the hands of coyotes.”
In opposing changes to the 2008 law, Clinton has placed herself a bit to the left of even Obama, who initially signaled openness to such changes before backtracking after Congressional Dems objected. And Clinton is also clarifying her previous suggestion that the kids should be “sent back.”

It’s not entirely clear whether most Americans are paying attention to the nuances of how various politicians are proposing to deal with the refugee crisis, beyond the basic distinction between those who want to deport all illegals and those who don’t. So by embracing a plausible strategy that doesn’t involve immediate deportations or changes in what was once a very popular antitrafficking law in order to speed deportations, HRC may well be arriving at a position most Democrats will come around to sooner if not later. It’s certainly a position that will be welcomed by those who don’t want to see the current crisis bleed over into an effort to deport most undocumented people, including those who have been here for years, or gut antitrafficking laws. I suspect when the panic and hype over border crossings subsides, she’ll look reasonable and prescient.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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