In response to the Trump administration’s controversial “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, several Democratic candidates are intentionally building their platforms on the opposite side of the spectrum.
According to HuffPost, a number of leading candidates in Texas are pushing to decriminalize the act of crossing the U.S. border, to some extent.
Among the leading proponents of this policy position is U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, currently serving as a U.S. representative.
After the issue received widespread attention following the separation of hundreds of families suspected of crossing the border illegally, O’Rourke is calling for compassion rather than criminal convictions.
Referring specifically to asylum seekers who cross illegally between designated entry ports, he said they are “penniless” and “at wit’s end.”
The congressman said that “after surviving three weeks on the road, very often with their children,” they choose to do “what any human would do” and cross into the United States.
“We should not criminalize that,” he said.
Two other leading Democratic state candidates — gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez and congressional hopeful Veronica Escobar — are making similar arguments ahead of Election Day.
Escobar claimed that this nation “has built a system on incarcerating migrants” and today’s leaders should “evaluate the way that we’ve criminalized migration.”
According to Valdez, her tenure as Dallas County sheriff shaped her opinion of practices used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. She has also served as a customs officer.
While illegally crossing the border is a crime under state law, she said agents often described them as “criminals,” which she said implied their convictions were indicators of a public threat.
“It’s time to reform and look at things,” Valdez said. “The majority of people are not coming in to do harm.”
The former law enforcement officer favors a system of “checking and verifying” who enters the country, but said she does not “think coming in here undocumented should be a criminal issue.”
As The Western Journal has previously reported, the current Justice Department has made immigration law enforcement a central issue.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy earlier this year.
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he said. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security made a similar statement.
“DHS has zero tolerance for those who break the law and will no longer exempt classes or groups of people from prosecution,” he said. “Whether you are a single adult or an adult member of a family unity, if you are apprehended you will be prosecuted and put in removal proceedings.”
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