Julián Castro, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said on Wednesday that crossing the U.S.-Mexico border should be treated as a civil offense rather than a crime.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) agreed with Castro’s position.
Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said the Trump administration is enforcing Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to incarcerate parents for illegally crossing the border, which separates them from the children they took into the U.S.
“If you truly want to change the system, repeal that section,” Castro said to the other candidates on stage at the Democratic presidential primary debate on NBC.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) was asked if decriminalizing the act of crossing the border would create an incentive for people to try entering the U.S. illegally.
“I am happy to look at this proposal,” she said, referring to Castro. “You want to make sure you have provisions in place that allow you to go after traffickers and allow you to go after people who are violating the law.”
Booker said that treating illegal immigration as a crime is not going to solve the issue.
“We have the power to deal with this problem through the civil process rather than the criminal process,” Booker said. “Our country has made so many mistakes by criminalizing things.”