Warren Calls for Decriminalizing Illegal Border Crossing

'We should not be criminalizing mamas and babies'

Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren / Getty Images
June 25, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) said Tuesday she supported decriminalizing illegal border crossings, arguing the U.S. shouldn't be prosecuting "mamas and babies trying to flee violence."

Warren told HuffPost in a statement she agreed with the stance of fellow 2020 contender Julián Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development chief in the Obama administration. Castro pushed in April for a repeal of a law that makes crossing the border without authorization a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, with harsher sentences for repeat offenders.

"I agree with Secretary Castro," Warren said. "We should not be criminalizing mamas and babies trying to flee violence at home or trying to build a better future. We must pass comprehensive immigration reform that is in line with our values, creates a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants including our DREAMers, and protects our borders."

The reform backed by Warren, Castro, and other Democrats would give civil immigration courts jurisdiction over such cases. Thousands of Central Americans are crossing the border each month, and Democrats have sharply criticized the Trump administration over the conditions of border stations holding migrant children.

Warren hasn't released a full immigration policy proposal yet, but she did tie criticism of Trump's border policies to her call last week to end private, for-profit prisons.

President Donald Trump has praised Mexico for cracking down on illegal crossings on its own southern border, as part of an agreement following Trump's threat to impose harsh tariffs over the border crisis. The illegal immigration problem still remains for the U.S. and has emerged as a major political issue in the 2020 Democratic field hoping to defeat Trump.

Congress is divided on a $4.5 billion humanitarian aid bill to address the border crisis, with some Democrats fearing the money will be used to enforce Trump raids to deport illegal immigrants.