Democratic lawmaker pushes back on Castro's call to repeal law making illegal border crossings a crime
© Getty Images

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellVulnerable Democrats swing behind impeachment push Democrats launch bilingual ad campaign off drug pricing bill Lawmakers to watch during Wednesday's impeachment hearing MORE (D-Fla.) pushed back Thursday against former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro’s proposal to repeal a law that makes it a crime to illegally cross the border.

“I think Julian is reacting the fact that we are treating immigrants who are coming to the border requesting asylum as criminals,” Mucarsel-Powell initially told CNN.

“I think our priority is to have border security. I am not at this point willing to change that specific provision," she said, pushing back on Castro’s proposal to repeal the regulation criminalizing border crossing entirely.


Mucarsel-Powell narrowly defeated then-Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloRepublicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP MORE (R) in the 2018 midterm elections. Her district voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo, the polls aren't wrong — but you have to know what to look for How to shut down fake Republican outrage over 'spying' on Trump More than 200,000 Wisconsin voters will be removed from the rolls MORE in 2016 by about 16 points.

Castro and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) sparred on the issue of decriminalizing border crossings and making it a civil violation in the first Democratic presidential debate Wednesday night.

O’Rourke has argued such a move would shield drug smugglers or human traffickers from prosecution, while Castro has countered that such activity would still be illegal.

During the debate, search interest for Castro spiked by more than 2,400 percent, according to data from Google Trends.