Elections 2020FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesCastro Calls for Decriminalization of Illegal Immigration

The fomer San Antonio mayor and Obama cabinet secretary thinks illegal immigration should be treated as a civil offense instead of a criminal violation.
June 24, 2019
On Sunday’s edition of CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper, former San Antonio mayor and current Democrat presidential candidate Julián Castro discussed his support for decriminalizing crossing the border illegally.

Castro wants to repeal Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act which sets criminal offenses for “improper entry into the United States by an alien.” Castro stated, “between 1929 and the early 2000s we treated it as a civil violation.”

He went on to say, “If someone comes here and they are undocumented — not committing a crime like human or drug trafficking — then that should be treated as a civil violation.”

In 1929, Congress codified the statute making illegal entry into the United States a misdemeanor offense and illegal reentry a felony offense.

Fellow presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on June 16 stated that he does not agree with Castro that illegal immigration should be decriminalized.

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Castro added, “I’m disappointed in Congressman O’Rourke’s stance because the only way that we’re going to effectively make sure that we’re not separating little children from their families is to repeal Section 1325.”

“I believe…going back to the way we used to treat this…would be more effective, smarter, and more humane,” Castro concluded his position on the issue by saying.

Castro, while criticizing the conditions in the detention facilities, mentioned “pictures of children sleeping on concrete with an aluminum blanket.”

One source of the pictures he is referencing is from a tweet on June 21 by an actress — retweeted over 30,000 times — who then said, “[The] Trump administration is forcing children 2 sleep on cement floor with an aluminum blanket & lights on all night.”

However, the pictures she circulated are timestamped for 2015 during the Obama administration, which was cut out of the viral tweet’s photos.

Other, more recent reports and pictures have circulated showing similar circumstances occurring since Donald Trump took office.

Castro also stated he “wouldn’t give one more dime” to the administration because he doesn’t trust them to spend it on improving the child welfare situation in the detention centers.

Meanwhile, the Office of Budget Management’s acting director, Russ Vought, has been asking since the start of May for $4.5 billion in additional funding to alleviate the United States’ overwhelmed detention facilities flooded with more illegal immigrants than they can support.

Tapper pressed Castro, saying that he didn’t “understand the logic if you think the conditions of these facilities for children are horrible…wouldn’t the [administration’s requested funding] alleviate the problem?”

Castro doubled down saying “I don’t have confidence that [giving] them more money” would solve anything because he doesn’t think they have a plan to improve conditions.

Of the $4.5 billion requested, $3.3 billion of it would go towards shelter improvements such as food, bedding, and other care for the individuals and families in custody.

Castro also mentioned a Justice Department attorney’s testimony in court about some detainee’s lack of access to things such as “a toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap,” in which she said “In CBP custody, it’s frequently intended to be much shorter terms. So, it may be that for a shorter-term stay in CBP custody that some of those things may not be required.”

Some House members have been imploring Democrat leadership to approve the funding.

Democrats agreed to bring forward a plan for funding last week, but some House Republicans are not optimistic the plan will fulfill the administration’s request.

In fact, as we reported last week, the initial draft of the border supplemental shows Democrats drastically reducing the resources that the administration is requesting for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This includes no appropriations to ICE for additional beds and facility capacity to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people coming across the border every month.

Last Friday, Governor Abbott announced the deployment of 1,000 more Texas National Guard troops to the border due to Congress’ abrogation on the issue.

A UT/TT poll from earlier this month has Castro at three percent in his home state and 53 percent name recognition. By contrast, Beto O’Rourke is at 15 percent in Texas with 82 percent total name recognition.

Nationally, the RealClearPolitics polling average has Castro at 0.9 percent.

He will be on stage Wednesday night during the first debate of the Democratic presidential primary.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.