2020 presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said she is “looking at” supporting other candidates in their calls to decriminalize illegal U.S. border crossings but that she is concerned such a policy would lead to open borders.
“That’s something that I’m looking at,” Gabbard told the hosts on ABC’s “The View” on whether she supports the policy. “I think decriminalizing could lead to open borders. We need safe, secure borders in this country.”
Rival 2020 candidate and former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro was the first to advocate for the policy that the other Democratic presidential candidates rapidly adopted.
During the second night of last month’s presidential primary debates in Miami, nearly every candidate raised his or her hand when asked if they supported eliminating legal penalties for those who ignore U.S. immigration laws. The only candidates who did not raise their hand were U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and former Vice President Joe Biden, who raised his hand half-way in a gesture to the moderators to explain his stance on the issue.
Other prominent Democrats have come out to criticize the proposal. Former U.S. secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who served under President Barack Obama, blasted the idea in the Washington Post as “tantamount to open borders.”
“That is tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders,” Johnson told the paper. “That is unworkable, unwise and does not have the support of a majority of American people or the Congress, and if we had such a policy, instead of 100,000 apprehensions a month, it will be multiples of that.”
The majority of the American people oppose this policy. The results of a poll conducted by NPR, PBS, and Marist were released Monday with more than 1,300 U.S. adults show that just 27 percent supported decriminalizing border crossings while 66 percent opposed the Democrat proposal.