(CNSNews.com) – The very liberal Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is running for president on a platform that includes empathy for illegal aliens, she told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Host Jake Tapper noted that Gillibrand has called Trump’s immigration stance “racist.” Yet in 2008, while campaigning for the U.S. Senate, Gillibrand described herself as a “firm opponent” of “amnesty” for illegal aliens, and she said English should be “the official language of the United States.”

“You called for expediting deportation of undocumented immigrants,” Tapper reminded Gillibrand. “Let me ask you, if Trump’s immigration positions are racist, were they racist when you held some of those positions as well?”

“They certainly weren’t empathetic, and they weren’t kind, and I did not think about suffering in other people’s lives,” Gillibrand responded.

And one thing I did 10 years ago, when I became senator and was going to represent 20 million people across our state, I recognized that a lot of places in my state were different, and I needed to understand what those constituents needed, too. And so I took the time.

I went down to Brooklyn. I met with (Rep.) Nydia Velazquez, who has been a leader fighting for families for a long time. And I listened. And I realized that things I had said were wrong. I was not caring about others. I was not fighting for other people’s kids, the same way I was fighting for my own. And I was wrong to feel that way.

And so I just said, I’m not going to stand by and do nothing for families that are suffering in my state and in my communities.

Instead of asking Gillibrand about American citizens who are suffering the consequences of illegal immigration, including gang violence, drug overdoses, and other problems, Tapper pressed Gillibrand about why Trump’s positions are “racist” when hers were not:

Gillibrand deflected:

So, what President Trump is doing is creating fear and division and a darkness across this country that I have never seen before.

One of the reasons I’m running for president, Jake, is because we have to restore that integrity to our presidency, to this country. We have always cared about others. We have always believed in the golden rule.

And what President Trump is doing is destroying the moral fabric of what this country stands for. We have the Statue of Liberty in our New York Harbor. She stands for a beacon of light and hope for others who need us. Send us your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

We have never been afraid of immigrants. We have never been afraid of refugees and asylum-seekers.

This president has sown fear and division that just makes us weaker. And so I think what he’s done is so horrible and so mean-spirited, that I am nothing like him and never will be, because my values haven’t changed.

I will fight for other people’s kids as hard as I will fight for my own.

Gillibrand has rejected President Trump’s offer, made in an address to the nation on Saturday, to allow three years of provisional status for dreamers and people with soon-to-expire temporary protected status if Democrats will give him $5.7 billion to build 230 miles of a “see-through steel barrier.”

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that “amnesty was not a part of my offer.” But Trump also said there “will be no big push” to deport the “11,000,000 plus” illegal aliens in the country.

Tapper asked Gillibrand, “What’s your counter-offer?”

So, my counter-offer would be what we put on the table a year ago and voted for, which was protect all dreamers, protect TPS status.

We, as Democrats, certainly care about national security and border security. We have always cared about that. And so we don’t mind investing in that. But we really want to protect the people who need our help right now. And then we can create a comprehensive immigration system that actually understands that people who are seeking asylum are helped.

And so that’s the deal we should be talking about, protecting all dreamers…and permanently, a pathway to citizenship, because the truth is, Jake, when I have met with dreamers, they’re struggling. They have so much anxiety and fear they might not be able to finish college. They might be serving in the military. They might have families. They — these are things that are hurting and harming people.

And for him to say three years, again, he has no compassion, he has no empathy for the people who actually are suffering because of his decisions.

Tapper asked Gillibrand if she’d agree to give Trump money for his wall in exchange for permanent protection for dreamers.

She indicated the answer is still no: “Border security and investing in keeping us safe is a better way to talk about it, because a wall is a waste of money and will not actually help us create safety.

“We also recognize, like, we can spend money on making sure we stop drug trafficking and human trafficking and cross-border terrorism. That’s what certainly I care about, and we can invest in that,” Gillibrand said.

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