Republicans Rebuke Nikki Haley’s 2015 Remarks Defending Illegal Aliens: ‘She Is Not Fit to Be Commander in Chief’

Former UN ambassador and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley speaks at a camp
Joseph Prezioso/AFP

House Republicans, as well as Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), are rebuking GOP presidential primary candidate Nikki Haley’s 2015 remarks, in which she urged Americans not to call illegal aliens “criminals” because “they’re not.”

This week, Breitbart News detailed Haley’s comments, which came during a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute on July 21, 2015. Earlier that month, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump made immigration the flashpoint issue of the 2016 Republican primary by telling the stories of Americans killed by illegal aliens.

“As a family of immigrants from India, how does that inform your thinking on the immigration debate and what do you feel about the tone of the immigration debate as it has recently turned?” Walter Isaacson asked, to which Haley responded:

So I think that what we have to remember and what I’ve always believed is that we’re a country of laws. That is what’s made us strong … it’s incredibly frustrating for a lot of people when they see the illegal immigrants being able to come across. It really is astonishing that after all these years, D.C. can’t figure out how to build a wall. It really is, after all of what they spend. [Emphasis added]

Having said that, we are a country of immigrants. I am the proud daughter of Indian parents who reminded us every day how blessed we are to live in this country. They resent when people come here illegally. But let’s keep in mind, these people who are wanting to come here, they’re wanting to come for a better life too. They have kids too. They have a heart too, so we don’t need to be disrespectful. We don’t need to talk about them as criminals, they’re not. They’re families that want a better life and they’re desperate to get here. [Emphasis added]

What we need to do is make sure we have a set of laws that we follow and we go through with that. I think that some things have been said that are unfortunate and wrong but I think we also need to remember, especially for all of us … tone and communication matters and people matter. We don’t ever need to talk about this in a cold-hearted way … be kinder than necessary. [Emphasis added]

In response, Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) wrote on Twitter that Haley “is not fit to be Commander-in-Chief” and noted that her remarks came just weeks after Kate Steinle’s death in the sanctuary city of San Francisco, California garnered national headlines.

Seven-time felon and five-time deported illegal alien Jose Garcia Zarate was charged with Steinle’s death after being caught on surveillance footage running from the crime scene.

After his arrest,  Zarate admitted to shooting and killing Steinle, who was walking on a pier at the time with her father, saying he chose San Francisco because it was a sanctuary city that shields criminal illegal aliens from arrest and deportation by federal authorities.

On November 30, 2017, Zarate was found not guilty of murdering Steinle.

Tuberville also slammed Haley in a statement, writing on Twitter that “Immigrants entering our country illegally are 100% ‘criminals’,” while Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) wrote, “Hey [Nikki Haley], they are CRIMINALS because they are here ILLEGALLY.”

Vivek Ramaswamy, also running in the GOP presidential primary, said he “strongly disagree[s]” with Haley on her characterization of illegal immigration, and Reps. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) similarly called out Haley.

“Someone let [Nikki Haley] know that if you cross the border illegally, you are by definition a criminal,” Luna wrote on Twitter.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


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