‘Migration shouldn’t be a criminal justice issue…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Julián Castro, Obama’s Housing and Urban Development secretary and a current presidential hopeful, said all border crossings, legal or illegal, should be decriminalized.
“The truth is, immigrants seeking refuge in our country aren’t a threat to national security,” Castro wrote in a blog post. “Migration shouldn’t be a criminal justice issue.”
Castro said that the elimination of Section 1325, the law that makes illegal entry a federal misdemeanor, is now apart of his presidential platform, which he dubbed a “People First” strategy.
“These laws got a new life in 2005, when the Bush administration decided to charge those that crossed the border with criminal violations, rather than civil ones,” the former San Antonio mayor said.
Castro also attacked the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.
“This shift to criminalize immigration is at the core of many of this administration’s most egregious immigration policies—from family separation to indiscriminate ICE raids to targeting asylum-seekers,” Castro said.
“The president’s failure in this defining moment was complete: It was a failure of leadership, a failure of policy, and a failure of conscience,” Castro continued. “But those all stemmed from an original and foundational failure: a failure to understand that despite the rhetoric, when we see families seeking refuge, we don’t see criminals, or an invasion, or a threat to national security.”
Castro said he would split ICE in half—reassigning its enforcement functions to other agencies and allowing it to continue monitoring human and drug trafficking.
“It’s time our nation’s immigration system reflect the collective values that we all share—equality, fairness, justice and compassion,” Castro said. “It’s time that we recognize that protecting our borders and treating immigrants with compassion are not mutually exclusive.”
The Department of Homeland Security has criticized the Obama-era refusal to enforce immigration law and the current loopholes in asylum policy that allow families to be quickly released without hearing.
Such policies, DHS says, have encouraged many migrants—including unaccompanied minors—to embark on a dangerous and uncertain trek where abduction and slavery at the hands of drug cartels, rape and other forms of assault are prevalent.
Once in the country—either through legal or illegal means—they face additional challenges. The overextended detention centers have been riddled with health issues and a shortage of treatment options.
As Mexican officials warned that the “mother of all caravans” was forming with an estimated 20,000 people, Trump recently threatened to cut off aid to several Central American countries, as well as closing the entire southern border.
But Castro downplayed the mass influx of migrants.
“More families are coming,” he continued. “[Trump’s] policy of cruelty is a failure, and we should choose compassion instead. We should choose people first.”