Bennet Suggests Fellow 2020 Candidates Don't Want Secure Border

Agrees they're 'out of step' with public on decriminalizing illegal border crossings

July 11, 2019

Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) warned that his fellow 2020 presidential candidates were out of step with the public on illegal immigration Thursday, suggesting they didn't support a secure border.

Bennet, a longshot White House hopeful, became the 17th candidate to visit the ABC talk show The View. Conservative co-host Meghan McCain noted he was one of just two candidates on his debate night last month to not raise his hand when asked he if would decriminalize illegal border crossings.

"Do you think fellow candidates are out of step with the American public on this?" McCain asked.

"I do," Bennet said, before invoking McCain's late father. "I learned something from John McCain, if I might say so, who was a border senator. He and Jeff Flake were on the Gang of Eight, and I know what's required for Republicans in the center of the country or on the border to be able to sell immigration reform in this country, and one of those things is a secure border. That should be true for Democrats as well. Democrats want a secure border as well. We just want a commitment to our rule of law, and a commitment to our history as a nation of immigrants."

McCain quipped Bennet was winning her over with that language.

One of the leading Democratic hopefuls, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) released an immigration plan on Thursday that included support for decriminalizing illegal border crossings. Former Obama administration official Julián Castro was the first candidate to support the idea this year, and others have followed suit.

A new poll showed a plurality of voters (41 percent) supported criminal prosecution for unauthorized border crossings, rather than a civil penalty. However, only 24 percent of Democrats agreed.

Bennet was one of the four Democrats in the Gang of Eight that worked with McCain, Flake, and Sens. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on an immigration reform package in 2013. The legislation, which included monies for border security and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants living in the United States, passed the U.S. Senate but died in the House.