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Hillary Clinton doesn't apologize for calling undocumented immigrants "illegal" but promises not to do it again.

Ethan Miller / Getty

In an online Q&A hosted by Telemundo, Jose Antonio Vargas, who is, aside from being a journalist and activist, an undocumented immigrant himself, asked Clinton whether she would commit to refrain from using the “offensive term,” which Clinton had employed to bolster her border security credentials at a recent New Hampshire town hall. Clinton acknowledged the “poor choice of words” (as the Huffington Post’s Roque Planas pointed out, it is, quite literally, an imprecise use of the adjective “illegal”) and vowed to do better going forward. “The people at the heart of this issue are children, parents, families, DREAMers,” she wrote on Facebook. “They have names, and hopes and dreams that deserve to be respected.”

The exchange exemplifies what is, for her critics, the most consistently frustrating aspect of Clinton’s politics: their seeming lack of conviction. As Martin O’Malley recently pointed out, from somewhere deep in the bottomless polling pit he currently inhabits, “Before one audience, she will talk about immigration reform and the need for it. Before another audience, she’ll use the term illegal immigrants and boast about having voted to build a wall and barbed-wire fence.”