- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2019

Former Obama administration official Julián Castro on Thursday said people who aren’t in favor of decriminalizing illegal crossings on the United States’ southern border are effectively supporting the “status quo.”

At Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, Mr. Castro challenged his fellow candidates to support repealing a section in U.S. law that makes crossing the border a misdemeanor. He has advocated making border jumping a civil offense, rather than a criminal one.

“Some people might say oh, what in the world, you’re getting so specific and technical, but no — this is the exact law that has allowed this administration to incarcerate the parents and then separate them from children,” Mr. Castro said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

He said Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory A. Booker, Rep. Tim Ryan, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have followed his lead on the issue.

“For some reason, Congressman [Beto] O’Rourke has not,” he said. “And I just wanted to point out that if you’re not calling for the repeal of that section, that means that basically you’re going to keep the status quo and you’re going to allow family separation.”

Mr. O’Rourke said at the debate that he was worried about human traffickers and that he didn’t want to prosecute families fleeing violence or persecution.

That was part of a back-and-forth in which Mr. Castro ultimately suggested that the former Texas congressman do his “homework” on the issue.

Mr. Castro, who hasn’t yet caught fire in public polling on the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said that overall he thinks he surprised people with his debate performance.

“I think that people are looking at me a new way today,” he said.

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