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

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellHispanic Democrats announce 'Latina Prosperity Principles' Gun epidemic is personal for lawmakers touched by violence Democrats race against clock with push for impeachment 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mucarsel-Powell narrowly defeated then-Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloThe Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP Anxious GOP treads carefully with Trump defense The Memo: Trump's rage may backfire on impeachment MORE (R) in the 2018 midterm elections. Her district voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRonan Farrow exposes how the media protect the powerful Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' Comey says he has a 'fantasy' about deleting his Twitter account after end of Trump term 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.