Some Democratic candidates in Texas have called for a re-examination of the law criminalizing unauthorized border crossings, HuffPost reported Thursday.
While it is a civil infraction to simply be unlawfully present in the United States, the act of first-time improper entry (illegal border crossing) is a criminal misdemeanor.
This has formed the basis of the Trump administration’s family separation policy: When parents traveling with children were transferred to criminal detention to await federal trial for the crime of improper entry — including, notably, those parents seeking asylum in the United States — while their children, unable to be held in criminal detention, were taken into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“It’s time to reform and look at things,” Lupe Valdez, a former customs agent and Dallas County sheriff, and now the Democratic nominee to become Texas’ governor, said, per HuffPost. “The majority of people are not coming in to do harm.”
“I don’t think coming in here undocumented should be a criminal issue,” Valdez added.
“The United States has built a system on incarcerating migrants,” former El Paso County Judge and current congressional candidate Veronica Escobar said. “We really have to evaluate the way that we’ve criminalized migration.”
“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,” Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), currently running to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), said.
“We should not criminalize that,” he said.
Read HuffPost’s report here.