Castro Doubles Down on Health Care for Illegal Immigrants: ‘It’s the Right Thing to Do’

Denies it gives Republicans political opening

Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro defended his call for government provided health insurance for illegal immigrants during a Sunday interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week.

Last week's Democratic debates sparked a call among the candidates to have the government provide health care for illegal immigrants. All 10 Democratic 2020 candidates at Thursday night’s debate raised their hand when asked if their healthcare plans would provide coverage to illegal immigrants. Some candidates who weren't at Thursday's debate, have quickly come out and support the policy, including Castro.

Stephanopoulos asked Castro about whether or not the pledge to give illegal immigrants health insurance would cost the Democrats politically.

"What I would like every American taxpayer to know is that right now, number one, undocumented immigrants already pay a lot of taxes," Castro responded. "Secondly, we already pay for the healthcare of undocumented immigrants. It's called the emergency room."

He then made a moral appeal for the health care coverage, saying that it was the right thing to do.

"Third, it's the right thing to do. We're not going to let people living in this country die because they can't see a doctor. That's not who we are, as Americans," Castro said.

Stephanopoulos then asked Castro about his stance on decriminalizing illegal crossing of the border and if that qualifies as "open borders."

"When you add up all the proposals you're calling for right now: decriminalization of crossing the border, no deportation absent other crimes, the offer of health benefits, also a possible path to citizenship," Stephanopoulos said. "I know you've rejected rhetoric about open borders. But isn't that effectively open borders?"

Castro objected to that description, pointing to the amount of security at the border and civil court procedures for deportation.

"Open borders is a right wing talking point, it always has been," Castro said.