California attorney general Xavier Becerra called Thursday for unauthorized immigration to be decriminalized, saying those crossing the southern border are “not criminals.”
“They haven’t committed a crime against someone, and they are not acting violently or in a way that’s harmful to people,” California’s top cop told HuffPost. “And I would argue they are not harming people indirectly either.”
“If you call them criminals, it’s a lot easier to get people to turn against them than if you call them undocumented immigrants,” he added.
Becerra’s comments came just as President Trump on Thursday issued a “one-year warning” to Mexico to control the flow of migrants and illegal drugs before he closes the border.
Several prominent border-state Democrats have echoed the California AG’s calls for illegal entry to be decriminalized, including Representatives Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Veronica Escobar of Texas. Former representative Beto O’Rourke, who hails from the border town of El Paso, Texas and is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said during his Senate campaign last year that he, too, supports decriminalizing illegal immigration.
“These asylum-seekers — penniless, at wit’s end, after surviving three weeks on the road, very often with their children — then attempt to do what I think any human would do, which is to request asylum in between the ports of entry,” O’Rourke said. “We should not criminalize that.”