Castro hits challengers for taking 'the bait' on right-wing immigration talking points

Castro hits challengers for taking 'the bait' on right-wing immigration talking points
© Getty Images

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said other Democratic candidates have "taken the bait" on calling decriminalization of illegal border crossings "open borders."

Asked by CNN's Don LemonDon Carlton LemonConservatives slam Beto O'Rourke over threat to tax-exempt status for religious organizations CNN LGBTQ town hall interrupted by protesters O'Rourke: Religious institutions should lose tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage MORE why he disagrees with his former Cabinet colleague Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on whether it should be a crime to enter the country illegally, Castro said "open borders is a right wing talking point and some people on this stage have taken the bait."

ADVERTISEMENT

Castro added that the only way to guarantee family separations won't happen again would be to repeal the statute that makes unauthorized entry a crime.

The Trump administration used that statute as the basis for its zero tolerance border policy, which led to the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents.

Castro brought Section 1325, the statute in question, into focus at the first Democratic presidential debate and attacked former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkePoll: Biden holds 10-point lead nationally over Warren Authorities seize weapons from alleged neo-Nazi leader under 'red flag' law Super PAC seeks to spend more than million supporting Yang MORE (D-Texas) on the subject.

After that debate, Johnson publicly disagreed with Castro.

The statute dates back to the 1920s, but most recent administrations before Trump did not enforce criminal penalties for first time illegal border crossers.