President Biden Says He Regrets Using the Term ‘Illegal’ at SOTU

Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Joe Biden says he regrets using the term “illegals” during his State of the Union address earlier this week.

During President Biden’s address on Thursday, he used the term “illegals” during an impromptu response to heckling from Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, about the recent murder of a 22-year-old nursing student. Right-wing politicians have turned Riley’s death into a political talking point because it was allegedly committed by an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela.

“Laken Riley—an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal,” Biden said. “But how many thousands of people are killed by legals? To her parents, I say, my heart goes out to you—having lost children myself, I understand.”

During an interview slated to air on Saturday night, MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart asked Biden about his use of the outdated term, which disturbed many Democrats and immigration advocates.

“During your response to [Greene’s] heckling of you, you used the word 'illegal' when talking about the man who allegedly killed Laken Riley—” Capehart said, before quickly being interrupted by the president.

“‘Undocumented,’ an ‘undocumented’ person,” Biden said. “I shouldn’t have used ‘illegal,’ it's ‘undocumented.’”

“And look, when I spoke about the difference between Trump and me, one of the things I talked about in the border was, is the way he talks about ‘vermin,’ the way he talks about these people ‘polluting the blood.’ I talked about what I’m not going to do—what I won’t do. I’m not going to treat any, any, any, of these people with disrespect,” he said.

“Look, they built the country. The reason our economy is growing,” Biden added. “We have to control the border, and more orderly flow but, I don’t share his view at all.”

“So you regret using that word?” Capehart asked.

“Yes,” Biden replied.

The full interview will air at 6 p.m. on MSNBC.

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