Bernie Sanders Announces Support for Decriminalizing Illegal Border Crossings

Bernie Sanders joined the ranks of other 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls in announcing his support for decriminalizing illegal border crossings.

On Thursday, he released a detailed immigration policy that explained what he would do from “Day One” of his presidency, including a moratorium on deportations until an analysis of policies and practices is done. Sanders’ plan also includes reinstating and expanding DACA, breaking up U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), shutting down “cruel and inhumane deportation programs and detention centers” and reuniting separated families.

“The Trump administration’s treatment of immigration exclusively as a criminal and national security matter is inhumane, impractical, and must end,” the plan says. “As president, Bernie Sanders would make undocumented immigration a civil matter, and fundamentally reform the government agencies tasked with enforcing immigration law in a way that views immigration as a historically valued process that’s woven into our country’s fabric.”

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Sanders is not the first Democratic presidential hopeful to say they support decriminalizing border crossings.

In July, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren promised in her immigration plan to “immediately issue guidance to end criminal prosecutions for simple administrative immigration violations.”

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also said that he would consider making illegal border crossings civil offenses but has not come out with as strong of a statement as Sanders or Warren.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has not backed the decriminalization of border crossings.

“If you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It’s a crime,” Biden said in the July presidential debate.

However, some analysts see the complete decriminalization of illegal border crossings as a potential weak spot for Democratic nominees who have come out in support of it.

“The problem with decriminalizing undocumented crossings is it fulfills the Republican narrative that Democrats want open borders, and that will be an absolute killer for us in November,” Colin Strother, a Texas Democratic strategist, told the Associated Press.