Bill Clinton Breaks With Democrats, Makes Concession on Illegal Immigrant Surge

Former President Bill Clinton made a stark admission.
Bill Clinton Breaks With Democrats, Makes Concession on Illegal Immigrant Surge
Former President Bill Clinton speaks during the second night of the Democratic National Convention, on Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)
Jack Phillips

Former President Bill Clinton conceded a change is needed to New York's "right to shelter" law as top state officials have sounded the alarm about illegal immigrants arriving in New York City in recent months.

"It's broken. We need to fix it ... it doesn't make any sense," the former president told host John Catsimatidis on WABC radio's Cats Roundtable show on Sunday.

He added: "They come here, and we're supposed to shelter people who can't get work permits for six months. We need to change that. They ought to work. They need to begin working, paying taxes, and paying their way. Most of these people have no interest in being on welfare."

President Clinton did not directly address the recent surge of illegal immigrants pouring across the U.S.–Mexico border. Republicans and Border Control unions have said that the Biden administration's policies have led to the rise in illegal immigration, namely after it terminated a number of Trump administration rules.

However, with the recent increase in illegal immigrants in New York City, President Joe Biden and Democrats will face political fallout, he said.

“The Democrats lost enough seats in New York because of reaction to the crime problem here and the sense that—we didn’t have—we my party—didn’t have a good common-sense approach to it,” he stated. “The swing vote is for common sense and solving problems.”

He further added that the U.S. immigration system is "built to handle about 400,000" people and argued that the federal government "should build more housing just over the Rio Grande," referring to Mexico.

“Keep people there, and let them in as quickly as possible if they are going some place where we know they can get a job and they’ll be welcome," the former president said, adding that the United States has "a negative birth rate" and suggested it can only be ameliorated by mass immigration.

That proposal bears some similarity to former President Donald Trump's migrant protection protocols, or the "remain in Mexico" policy, which requires some alleged asylum-seekers to go back to Mexico to await immigration proceedings. The Trump policy was ended by President Biden in April 2022 after a judge struck it down.

 Illegal immigrants climb a section of the U.S.–Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 29, 2018. (David McNew/Getty Images)
Illegal immigrants climb a section of the U.S.–Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 29, 2018. (David McNew/Getty Images)

"If that happens, the only way to keep your economy growing is either with immigrants or machines,” the former Arkansas governor argued.

More than 110,000 illegal immigrants have entered New York City since April 2022, according to reports. Some city and state officials have argued that the "right to shelter" law should only apply to already-homeless people living in the city, not illegal immigrants.

“The original premise behind the right to shelter was, for starters, for homeless men on the streets, people experiencing AIDS, that was [then] extended to families,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said last month, adding, “But never was it envisioned being an unlimited universal right, or obligation on the city, to house literally the entire world."

Over the past weekend, Mrs. Hochul criticized U.S. border policies and said it's "too open" for people to cross. She argued that more border agents should be hired to apprehend illegal immigrants.

“It is too open right now,’’ the governor told CBS’s “Face the Nation’’ on Sunday. “We want [Congress] to have a limit on who can come across the border,’’ she added.

“People coming from all over the world are finding their way through, simply saying they need asylum, and the majority of them seem to be ending up in the streets of New York, and that is a real problem for New York City,” the governor continued to say.

However, some Republicans have said that the border-related comments from Mrs. Hochul and other Democrats are simply reactions to negative poll numbers.

“Kathy Hochul sees the same polling that we are looking at, and she and New York Democrats are in free fall," House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said in a recent statement.

Meanwhile, President Clinton's comments drew a response from Elon Musk, who wrote on his social media platform Monday that “they literally did ask for it," referring to New York City, which is a self-declared sanctuary state for illegal immigrants.

Mr. Musk, the owner of X and Tesla, recently visited Texas near the border and livestreamed his trip last week.

"We actually do need a wall and we need to require people to have some shred of evidence to claim asylum to enter, as everyone is doing that," Mr. Musk said. "It's a hack that you can literally Google to know exactly what to say. Will find out more when I visit Eagle Pass maybe as soon as tomorrow."

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: