Sen. Gillibrand Flip Flops on Every Immigration Stance for Presidential Campaign

“I realized that things I had said were wrong,” she said, citing a trip to Brooklyn. “I was not caring about others.”

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Kirsten Gillibrand/IMAGE: CNN via YouTube

(Ben Brody and Robert Schmidt, Bloomberg News) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Sunday that her past hawkish immigration positions, including opposition to giving “amnesty to illegal aliens,” lacked empathy.

The newly announced Democratic presidential candidate from New York, who has moved left since her time representing a more conservative upstate House district, made three television appearances criticizing President Donald Trump’s positions on immigration and resisting the notion that she’s been politically expedient on the issue.

“They certainly weren’t empathetic, and they weren’t kind, and I did not think about suffering in other people’s lives,” Gillibrand said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked if her previous positions had been “racist,” as she has described Trump’s.

In the House, Gillibrand voted to increase funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which she recently said she wants to abolish. She also once supported border fencing, making English the official language of the U.S., and making it easier to deport undocumented immigrants –– among other positions that she’s largely repudiated since being appointed to the Senate in 2009.

That move, in which she filled the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, brought her into contact with a wider range of constituents who changed her thinking, she said Sunday.

“I realized that things I had said were wrong,” she said, citing a trip to Brooklyn. “I was not caring about others.”

Gillibrand said that Trump’s immigration positions, including his insistence on funding for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico that’s led to a monthlong partial government shutdown, were “creating fear and division and a darkness across this country.”

Gillibrand joined fellow Democrats in slamming Trump’s proposed compromise, announced on Saturday. The deal would extend protections for three years for some of the young people brought to the country illegally as children, and make other concessions in exchange for $5.7 billion for a border wall. She called for a permanent fix and a pathway to citizenship for all beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“What President Trump is doing is destroying the moral fabric of what this country stands for,” she said.

Gillibrand is one of more than a dozen Democrats who’ve announced their candidacies or are considering challenging Trump.

Though she renounced taking money from corporations’ political action committees in 2018, Gillibrand is a prodigious fundraiser.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, her two largest contributors in 2018 were individuals from two law firms where she had previously worked: Davis Polk & Wardwell and Boies Schiller Flexner. The nonpartisan center also reported that Gillibrand raised more than $1.84 million from the securities and investment industry in the 2018 election cycle.

Gillibrand reported having $10.5 million in cash left over from her 2018 senatorial campaign that she can use for her presidential run, an amount second only to Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts among potential Democratic candidates.

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