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Congressman: Illegal Border Crosser 'Kind of Person I'd Like to Have' in America

PHILADELPHIA -- An individual who crosses the border illegally into the United States is the kind of person Americans should want in the country because of their "strength" and "will," Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) told PJM.

Honda was asked for his response to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who said illegal immigrants broke federal law after crossing the border and should be sent back to their home countries.

"We break a lot of laws in this country, you know, like selling firearms that shouldn't be sold and get sent on the other side of the border to be used nefariously. I think that we have to look at why people come over and use that as a judgment rather than saying you didn't come through the proper process. The process is broken," Honda said at the Democratic National Convention.

During Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allowed gun dealers to sell firearms to illegal straw buyers with the hopes of tracking them. Some of the guns were lost and later traced to crime scenes on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, including the death of Border Patrol officer Brian Terry.

"We're looking at youngsters who braved two or three borders to get here to escape rape, murder, the fear of terrorism of gangsters in Central America, and we're telling them they've got to go back. What kind of a person has the strength and the will to travel that distance and come across that border? That's the kind of person I'd like to have in this country. Give me a person with that kind of will and character and I'll tell you that's going to be a good American," Honda continued.

The backlog of legal immigration applications is estimated at more than four million. In addition, 273 judges in the U.S. are currently handling more than 500,000 immigration cases, according to the Washington Examiner. Honda was asked if those should be processed before any pathway to citizenship is offered to illegal immigrants.

"We can multitask. We’re not a linear country, you know, we can do both. We should do both," Honda said.

Honda, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, also said he would like to see the "reunification" of families as part of immigration reform.