Former President Bill Clinton was critical of President Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies during the delivery of his commencement speech at Hobart and William Smith Colleges this weekend.
“It kind of embarrasses me that we let a person risk his life for us and then kicked him out,” Clinton said referring to Miguel Perez Jr., a legal United States resident who was sent back to Mexico for drug offenses.
“A guy that does two combat tours in Afghanistan, risks his life for the rest of us,” Clinton said. “Whether you approve of what we’re doing there or not, he did things that most Americans don’t do. And he got taken off the street and sent home the other day.”
Earlier in his speech, Clinton made a play for gun control by using statistics to suggest that gun violence is a far greater threat than radical Islamic terrorism. Clinton said:
Nine-tenths of one percent of America’s population are Muslims. Two hundred and ten thousand people have been killed in gun violence since 911. The percentage of them killed by Muslims is less than three-tenths of one percent. In other words, their murder rate is one-third the national average. Does it mean we shouldn’t be tough on terrorism committed by Islamic radicals? Of course not. But it means we shouldn’t go around in a blind stupor mixing apples and oranges and terrifying some of the talented, most devoted people in this country who want to make their contribution and who help make us better, because diverse groups make better decisions and make a more interesting life.
Clinton also acknowledged that both the United States and the world were undergoing significant changes due to globalization, and he admitted that its consequences are often negative and “mortify people.”
He said, referring, for example, to the “global ransom over hacking files”:
I think, for whatever it’s worth… I believe that this global interdependence, in the end, will turn out to be a good thing. But there’s a lot of good and bad to it. You get on the Internet and do all kinds of searches and find things that are sometimes even true. But we also know that, like every other technological development, it is capable of bringing great good and great trouble.
He said, “We should relish our differences and we should feel self-confident in doing so, because from a strictly biological point of view, genetically, we are about 99 percent the same; all of us on Planet Earth.”
Clinton completed his speech by saying, “Every single day we should each find a way to expand the definition of ‘us’ and shrink the definition of ‘them.’ Because, in the end, there’s not enough difference to spend our life fretting about it.”