POLITICS
07/28/2014 10:14 am ET Updated Jul 28, 2014

Hillary Clinton: 'I Don't Agree' On Changing Trafficking Laws To Address Border Crisis

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that she opposes changes to a 2008 law meant to help unaccompanied children and teenagers who crossed the border illegally, and instead endorsed the idea of screening minors in their native countries before they make a dangerous trek to the U.S.

"We should be setting up a system in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador to screen kids. Before they get in the hands of coyotes, or they get on the 'Beast,' or they're raped. Terrible things happen to them," she told Fusion's Jorge Ramos, referring to the "Beast," a series of freight trains that minors from Central America are riding to get through Mexico to the U.S.

Border patrol agents have apprehended more than 57,500 unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally since the beginning of October, straining the country's system of caring for, screening and possibly deporting the children and teenagers.

"If we don't have a procedure, it's not going to stop," Clinton said. "More kids are going to come."

She differed from President Barack Obama and many Republicans on whether to change the 2008 trafficking law that keeps unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada from being quickly deported.

While Obama initially said he wanted Congress to change the 2008 law, he did not propose legislative changes in his $3.7 billion funding request earlier this month, angering Republicans who say he flip-flopped on the issue. The administration has, however, continued to back changing the law at a later date.

"I don't agree that we should change the law," Clinton said. "That's why I'm advocating an appropriate procedure, well funded by the Congress, which they are resisting doing, so that we can make individual decisions."

Clinton said the U.S. could instead screen minors in their native countries to determine whether they would be eligible for refugee status or some other type of relief.

Watch the full video at Fusion.

Clinton said in June that unaccompanied minors "should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are."

Pressed on that point by Ramos, Clinton stood by her statement that some minors should be deported.

"Some of them should be sent back," she said, adding that those without a legitimate claim for asylum or some type of family connection should be deported and returned to their families.

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