More than any other leader of either political party, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has been focusing on the issue of immigration reform and border security—taking hard-line positions that appeal to frustrated Republicans in a move that could guarantee her enough red state support to win the White House in 2008.
On Wednesday, as the media descended on Little Rock to cover the opening of her husband’s presidential library, Sen. Clinton criticized the Bush administration for not using advanced technology to improve border security.
“I don’t think that we have protected our borders or our ports or provided our first responders with the resources they need, so we can do more and we can do better,” Clinton told Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren.
To enhance border security, Clinton explained, “there’s technology now available. There are some advanced radar systems. There are biometric and other kinds of identification systems that we’ve been very slow to deploy and unwilling to spend money on.”
Unnoticed by the big media, Sen. Clinton has been cultivating the immigration issue since last year.
In a February 2003 interview that went unreported except by NewsMax, Clinton told WABC Radio’s John Gambling, “I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants.”
“Clearly, we have to make some tough decisions as a country,” the top Democrat warned. “And one of them ought to be coming up with a much better entry and exit system so that if we’re going to let people in for the work that otherwise would not be done, let’s have a system that keeps track of them.”
Taking a position far to the right of the Bush administration, Sen. Clinton said she would support “at least a visa ID, some kind of an entry and exit ID. And, you know, perhaps, although I’m not a big fan of it, we might have to move towards an ID system even for citizens.”
The former first lady also railed against business owners who employ undocumented workers:
“People have to stop employing illegal immigrants,” she told WABC. “I mean, come up to Westchester, go to Suffolk and Nassau counties, stand on the street corners in Brooklyn or the Bronx [and] you’re going to see loads of people waiting to get picked up to go do yard work and construction work and domestic work.”
And while President Bush continues to press for a guest-worker program—a move that pleases Mexican President Vicente Fox almost as much as it enrages most Republicans—Sen. Clinton has publicly chastised Canadian immigration officials for being too lax on border issues.
In December 2001, for instance, Clinton urged Canadian offiicals to “crack down on some of these false documents and illegals getting in.”
A year later, she blasted Canada after reports indicated that al-Qaida terrorists had slipped into New York across the northern border.
Could a campaign that calls for a crackdown on illegal immigration be the political magic bullet that catapults the former first lady back into the White House?
One diehard Bush supporter, who says he can’t stand the Clintons, told NewsMax, “If she ran on a platform of promising to do something about illegal immigration, hell, even I’d vote for her.”