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Former president Bill Clinton said in a recent interview that “there is a limit” to how many migrants the United States can take without causing disruption.
Clinton’s comments came during an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, who asked, “Now what you have is a lot of people who are essentially economic migrants . . . essentially gaming the system, using the asylum as a way to get in. Isn’t it true that there has to be some order placed on this? Some control?”
“I agree with that,” Clinton replied. “That is, there is a limit to how many migrants any society can take without severe disruption and assistance, and our system is based much more on an assumption that things would be more normal,” Clinton said on a CNN podcast with Zakaria.
Clinton’s comments come as border agents have recorded more than 2.1 million migrant encounters this fiscal year, including more than 200,000 encounters last month alone.
The 76-year-old former president recalled a time when he was young in which Mexican migrants traveled back and forth across the border to work in agriculture, saying it “worked for people at the time.”
“It’s an old story, but now you’ve got the largest number of refugees since World War II because of Syria and now Ukraine and other problems,” he said.
He went on to criticize Texas governor Greg Abbott for busing more than 10,000 migrants from the border to “sanctuary cities” to draw attention to the border crisis.
“What’s happening in Venezuela, more than 2 million refugees pouring into first Colombia then nearby countries, has created unprecedented new challenges and meanwhile provides opportunities for stunts like Gov. Abbott’s — sending his refugees to some place that he thinks is advocating for a broad-minded policy that it doesn’t have to live with,” he said.
He also criticized Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who sent 50 migrants via plane from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
“DeSantis sending those people to Martha’s Vineyard was amazing. That may come back to haunt him a little bit,” the former president said.
Clinton acknowledged in his own 1995 State of the Union address as president that “All Americans, not only in the States most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country.”
He added at the time:
The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. In the budget I will present to you, we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.
Clinton later signed into law the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.