Castro-O’Rourke Tangle on Immigration

Wednesday night’s Democratic primary debate saw contenders Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke tangle over immigration. It was the immigration issue that brought much attention to Julián Castro’s candidacy and put Beto O’Rourke in the uncomfortable position of having to defend his stance on immigration reform. At issue was Section 1325 of the U.S. law on immigration. Immigration is a complex issue that is not as simple as “following the law”.

Julián Castro pointed out during the debate that Beto does not want to repeal Section 1325 from the immigration law. Beto retorted that he did not want to give up a mechanism for prosecuting drug and human traffickers. Castro responded that Beto “should do” his “homework on the issue”.

What Julián Castro was alluding to is that Section 1325 is the mechanism that is being used by Donald Trump to put children in cages and is indirectly tied to the headline picture of the death of the father-daughter duo that is making the news media rounds.

Because of the complexity of the immigration process, Julián Castro is correct, but much context is needed. Beto O’Rourke does not understand immigration law.

The focus on Section 1325 was changed from civil to criminal enforcement by George W. Bush in 2005 to address the change in undocumented immigrants crossing the border. Prior to 2005, it was mainly Mexicans crossing the border as undocumented immigrants. In 2005, border crossers shifted towards “Other Than Mexicans,” or OTMs leading to the issue of how to manage them. It was this change in focus that has allowed Trump to cage the children.

However, Section 1325 is too complex to simply gloss over today so on Monday I am going start a three-day series on the issue of criminality for crossing the border and remaining in the country as an undocumented immigrant.

For today’s post I will focus on the point that Julián Castro was making – that Section 1325 is what is allowing Trump to cage children and why little kids are dying while trying to cross the border.

Many do not understand the complexity of immigration law and it is the reason why Beto O’Rourke failed to understand what Castro was trying to school him on. Beto argues that Section 1325 empowers the government to guard against drug and human traffickers. What Beto did not understand is that there are already strong laws that can be used to deal with traffickers. Applying Section 1325 to deal with traffickers is misusing a law that traditionally did not criminalize crossing the border.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll delve deep into Section 1325 explaining its genesis from civil penalties to criminal ones by George W. Bush to Barack Obama and by Donald Trump. It ties directly to the notion of “illegal alien/immigrant” versus “undocumented immigrants” and the Dreamers.

For Beto, the run for president fizzled further on Wednesday night. Beto was unable to offer a clear understanding about immigration which is the key issue that will drive the 2020 elections.

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