A group connected to former President Donald Trump is circulating a 2015 clip that shows former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley saying that illegal immigrants should not be talked about “as criminals.”
Nikki Haley says it's inappropriate to call the illegal immigrants 'criminals':
"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." pic.twitter.com/ypMi4H1Oya
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) January 4, 2024
The comments came during a panel discussion involving Republican governors at the Aspen Institute. Haley was asked about the tone of the rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate.
“I think that what we have to remember, and I have always believed, is that we are a country of laws,” Haley said during the panel. “We have to always be a country of laws. So it’s incredibly frustrating for a lot of people when they see the illegal immigrants being able to come across.”
Haley started off her answer as being tough on immigration and wanting to stop the number of illegal immigrants who were crossing the border then. She then continued by taking a more personal angle on the question and discussing her parents’ experience coming to America from India.
“Having said that, we are a country of immigrants,” she continued. “I am a proud daughter of Indian parents that reminded us every day how blessed we are to live in this country. They resent when people come here illegally…So, we don’t need to be disrespectful. We don’t need to talk about them as criminals — they’re not.”
The responses to the almost nine-year-old clip have varied. Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy tweeted simply “Strongly disagree,” presumably because anyone who has entered the country illegally has already broken a law and is by definition a criminal.
The Haley campaign has fired back at the pro-Trump group arguing that she has a history of being tough on illegal immigration regardless of what she said back in 2015.
“She passed one of the toughest anti-illegal immigration bills in the country in 2011 when Trump was still a Democrat,” Haley campaign spokesperson AnnMarie Graham-Barnes told Fox News Digital. “She has also said she has a different style and approach from Trump and doesn’t always agree with his incendiary language.”