Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list'

Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list'

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom Line Bottom Line Lobbying world MORE (D-Nev.) said in an interview published Tuesday that decriminalizing border crossings "is not something that should be at the top of the list" for 2020 Democrats.

“There are so many more important things to do,” the Nevada Democrat told Vice News, saying that the decriminalization of crossing the border illegally “should be way, way down at the bottom of the list.”

He added: “People want a fair immigration system. They don’t want an open-door invitation for everybody to come at once.”

Immigration has become a central issue among Democratic presidential candidates ahead of the 2020 election, with several — including former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPress: Another billionaire need not apply Saagar Enjeti dismisses Warren, Klobuchar claims of sexism New book questions Harris's record on big banks MORE (D-Calif.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersTech firms face skepticism over California housing response Press: Another billionaire need not apply Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick mulling 2020 run: report MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'm more of a Democrat from my shoe sole to my ears' than anyone else running Press: Another billionaire need not apply Saagar Enjeti dismisses Warren, Klobuchar claims of sexism MORE (D-Mass.) — calling for the elimination of a misdemeanor penalty that comes with entering the U.S. illegally.

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Those who illegally enter the U.S. can currently be prosecuted and sentenced to up to six months in prison, which critics such as Warren say has made the Trump administration’s family separations at the border possible.

The decriminalization push by Democratic White House hopefuls has raised concerns from former top Obama administration officials, who say the party is leaving itself vulnerable to Republican attacks in the 2020 race. Reid told Vice News that supporting decriminalization would “of course” be problematic in next year's election.

2020 Democrats remain sharply divided on the issue, with former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment Biden: 'I'm more of a Democrat from my shoe sole to my ears' than anyone else running MORE and Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockPress: Another billionaire need not apply Obama's former chief economist advising Buttigieg The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump says Dems shouldn't hold public hearings MORE among the list of those who say they wouldn’t support decriminalizing border crossings.