So it appears the 2020 Democratic candidates are nearly unanimous in their views on the border crisis. They would allow everyone seeking asylum into the country, which means, had any of them been in the White House last month, they’d have admitted 144,000 people—and wouldn’t have detained hardly any of them.
That was the gist of the exchange between Julian Castro, Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, and Cory Booker, who vied for who could sound the most welcoming to the record numbers of Central Americans now crossing the border illegally and claiming asylum.
Opening the debate on immigration, Castro boasted of his immigration plan, which calls for ending the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, limiting daily numbers of asylum seekers at ports of entry (“metering”), a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants, and a “Marshall Plan” for Central America. He also challenged every candidate to support the repeal of section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which says, among other things, that entering the country illegally is a criminal offense.
That is, Castro wants to deal with border-crossers administratively, not through immigration courts. That means no one, or almost no one, would be detained.
Booker began his reply in Spanish (like O’Rourke had earlier) and echoed Castro almost point-for-point: get rid of metering and zero tolerance, a pathway to citizenship, major U.S. spending in Northern Triangle countries. But he went a step further, saying that “family separation isn’t just happening at the border, it’s happening in our communities,” a reference to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arresting illegal immigrants and putting them into deportation proceedings.
That is, Booker was apparently arguing against ICE carrying out arrests, which means not only would nearly everyone who crossed the border be released, but few would be arrested if they were in the country illegally. Beto echoed both Castro and Booker, saying he “wouldn’t turn asylum-seekers back at the border,” although he and Castro did disagree on repealing section 1325, amid a lot of cross-talk.
The bottom line from Wednesday’s debate is that when it comes to immigration and the border crisis, the Democrats’ solution is open the borders.