ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Alluding to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign pledge, former President Bill Clinton said “we don’t need a wall on the Rio Grande” and the federal government should let undocumented immigrant students and their parents stay in the U.S.
“The only people trying to come across the Rio Grande are people that live in states that can’t defend them because of the power of the drug traffickers and the gangs: El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and they can come if they prove they fear for their safety, legitimately, under a law signed by George W. Bush back when we weren’t fighting with everybody and recognized humanitarian obligations,” Clinton said during a campaign rally for his wife in Northern Virginia on Wednesday.
“Hillary is for immigration reform and, meanwhile, keep the DREAMers here and don’t send their parents home,” he added.
When Clinton took the stage in a packed gym at the Durant Recreation Center, he acknowledged how humid it was in the room and apologized for being late. Someone in the crowd nearly passed out during the event.
“It’s hot in here,” he said. “I apologize for being late but for once in my life it wasn’t my fault,” the president added, explaining that getting stuck on the runway was out of his control.
During the speech, Clinton referred to Trump’s “make America great again” campaign slogan.
“Well, I’ve got news for you, if you live in Virginia, where so many people have served our country with such distinction, where so many people have come home in recent years bearing the wounds of war, where the economy is growing like crazy in Northern Virginia, I’ve got news for all of those Republicans: America never stopped being great. What we need to do is make America whole again,” he said. “Hillary said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t want to build any walls. I’m going to tear down barriers and build ladders of opportunity.,”
Before Clinton’s remarks, Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) addressed the crowd.
Connolly questioned Trump’s promise to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.
“They are apparently going to get on their knees and thank Donald Trump for giving them the privilege of handing him a big check to build a wall between our country and theirs – I don’t know,” he said. “That’s a platform?”
Standing in a huge crowd of people trying to get books and photos signed after the event, PJM attempted to ask Clinton about attending Trump’s wedding with Hillary. Clinton could not hear the entire question as he walked by due to Katy Perry’s “Roar” blaring from the speakers in the venue.
Clinton is ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by 17 points in Virginia in the latest Real Clear Politics polling average.