Democrats

Iowa Democrat Refuses to Say Whether Illegal Border Crossings Should be Decriminalized

'We need to address issues like that'

Iowa Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield refused to take a position on decriminalizing illegal border crossings at the Democratic primary debate on Monday.

Asked by Iowa Press host David Yepsen if it should be "illegal to cross the border without documentation," Greenfield failed to offer a stance, saying, "We need to address issues like that."

"Our immigration system is broken. We need to modernize it. We need to address issues like that. We need to make sure that it's humane. We need to make sure that it does keep our borders safe," Greenfield said.

"But anything specific about this particular question on coming into the U.S. without proper paperwork?" Yepsen asked.

"The whole system is broken, Dave," Greenfield said.

Greenfield has previously faced criticism for being vague on policy. She failed to outline positions on her campaign website until February—more than nine months after announcing her candidacy in June—according to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Greenfield has acknowledged the shortcoming, admitting to voters that she is "not a policy wonk" during an April health care forum.

Navy veteran Mike Franken, attorney Kimberly Graham, and insurance executive Eddie Mauro also participated in Monday's in-person debate. Greenfield, however, has attracted attention as the front-runner in the field after receiving the backing of national party leaders within days of her campaign launch.

Prior to the debate, the campaign for Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) took aim at Greenfield's lack of preparedness, highlighting the businesswoman's interview with the Des Moines Register. Greenfield stammered when asked whether President Donald Trump is "on the right track in Afghanistan with the agreement with the Taliban."

"As a U.S. senator, I want to understand the goals and the priorities of our administration. I want to understand the strategies to achieve it and have that opportunity before I would judge it," Greenfield said. "I'm not always clear, just as an everyday Iowan, um, why, what, and how. Um, but as a United States senator, I want to be clear, um, so that I could speak up in favor or not in favor, whatever the locations are around the world."

The board went on to endorse Franken over Greenfield on May 7.

Greenfield's primary opponents have repeatedly criticized the national party's handling of the primary. Graham said the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee refused to return her calls, and Mauro slammed the "D.C. establishment" for meddling in the race.