John Delaney: Decriminalizing border crossings is not 'the right thing to do'

Presidential candidate and former Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyDirect air capture is a crucial bipartisan climate policy Lobbying world Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis MORE (D-Md.) said Monday that he doesn’t think decriminalizing border crossings is the right approach amid a surge of migrants at the southern border.

“I just don’t think at this moment in time when we have a huge kind of surge at our border sending a message that we’re going to decriminalize crossings is the right thing to do,” Delaney told Hill.TV during an interview on “Rising.”

“My wife and I were at the border couple of months ago helping asylum seekers make their case, so I saw first hand,” he added. “These people are actually coming for very legitimate reasons — unless we stabilize what’s going on in those countries we’re going to continue to see this refugee crisis.”

The former Maryland lawmaker said that Congress should instead address the aftermath of President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE’s zero tolerance policy, which led to the separation of hundreds of migrant families.

“Let’s pass a law saying children cannot be separated from their parents, which is the law I’m in favor of,” Delaney said. “You do that and you don’t have to decriminalize border crossings and I just don’t think decriminalizing border crossings when we clearly have a crisis at our southern border, we clearly have a massive amount of migration.”

Many of the Democratic presidential candidates on stage said they favored some form of decriminalizing border crossings during last week's debates.

On the second night of the debates, just one candidate — Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetBuilding back better by investing in workers and communities Biden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' Colorado remap plan creates new competitive district MORE (D-Colo.) — did not raise his hand in response to a question about decriminalizing border crossings.

Delaney said he backs legal immigration for the sake of the U.S. economy.

“The worst thing for a country is to shrink — the worst thing, economically,” he said, pointing to Russia and Japan as prime examples of countries with hardline immigration policies. “So imagine your country is getting older, you have all of these obligations and you have no new workers to effectively pay the bills.”

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is expected to hold a hearing on Wednesday over the treatment of migrant children by the Department of Homeland Security.

Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (D-Md.) has invited DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan and acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan to testify.

The hearing comes amid concerns of the conditions of migrants at the southern border.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights issued a statement on Monday, saying she found the conditions of migrants and refugees being held at the border appalling.

President Trump, meanwhile, pushed back over the weekend against reports of conditions are unsafe and unsanitary conditions, saying that they were being exaggerated.

—Tess Bonn