California attorney general calls for unauthorized immigration to be decriminalized

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCampaigns accuse California AG of slanted descriptions of ballot initiatives California sues Trump administration to mandate undocumented immigrants are counted for apportionment OVERNIGHT ENERGY: 20 states sue over Trump rule limiting states from blocking pipeline projects | House Democrats add 'forever chemicals' provisions to defense bill after spiking big amendment | Lawmakers seek extension for tribes to spend stimulus money MORE (D) called for unathorized immigration to be decriminalized, in an interview with HuffPost.

"They are not criminals,” Becerra told HuffPost regarding those who cross the border illegally in an interview published on Wednesday. “They haven’t committed a crime against someone, and they are not acting violently or in a way that’s harmful to people. And I would argue they are not harming people indirectly either."

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Becerra’s comments come as immigration has become a hot issue, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE recently threatening to close the southern border with Mexico. 

Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro called for the decriminalization of border crossings Tuesday as part of his 2020 presidential platform on immigration.

In his interview, Becerra said crossing the border without proper authorization should still carry consequences, but said a criminal charge unnecessarily brands immigrants as "criminals."

“If you call them criminals, it’s a lot easier to get people to turn against them than if you call them undocumented immigrants,” he told the news outlet.

Currently, entering the country illegally for the first time constitutes a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in prison, according to HuffPost.

Additional violations can be pursued as felonies, the publication noted. 

California, led by Becerra and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), has put itself at the forefront of the immigration battle, challenging many of the Trump administration's crackdowns on unauthorized immigration.