Sanders: Border Situation ‘Not the Kind of Crisis That Requires Demonization of Desperate People’

By Melanie Arter | June 10, 2019 | 3:23 PM EDT

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

( – Sen. Bernie Sanders told CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper” on Sunday that what’s happening on the U.S. border with Mexico “is a serious problem,” but “not the kind of crisis that requires demonization of desperate people who in some cases have walked 1,000 miles with their children.

“You tweeted this week that President Trump's tariffs were a -- quote – ‘fake border crisis’ -- in quotation marks. But immigration officials have arrested or encountered more than 144,000 migrants at the southern border in May, the highest monthly total in 13 years. Border facilities are dangerously overcrowded. Migrants are actually standing on toilets to get space to breathe. How is that not a crisis?” CNN’s Dana Bash asked.

“What we need to do -- I mean, what Trump has been doing and I think the -- what the meaning of that tweet is about is that Trump has been demonizing undocumented people in this country, and that's part of his strategy about dividing us up. Before he was president, he was the leader of the birther movement, trying to delegitimize President Trump. He has been anti-Muslim. That's what his political strategy is,” Sanders said.

“What we need is a border policy that is humane that, among other things, expedites the asylum process by bringing in a whole lot more legal staff and judges, so that people do not have to wait,” he added.


“But what I just described to you, is that a crisis?” Bash asked.

“It is a serious problem, but it is not the kind of crisis that requires demonization of desperate people who in some cases have walked 1,000 miles with their children. It is an issue that we have to deal with. But the issue of climate change, the issue of tens of millions of Americans not having any health insurance, the fact that half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, those are more serious crises. So, it is an issue, but you don't demonize desperate people. We deal with it in a rational and humane way,” Sanders said.

When asked if he would be willing to use tariffs as a negotiating strategy for non-trade related issues, Sanders said, “I believe that the trade policies this country, the United States, has had for many years were written by the CEOs of large corporations, often in secret, by the way. I voted against NAFTA. I voted against permanent normal trade relations with China, and I think what the facts show is that we have lost some four million good-paying jobs as a result of those disastrous trade agreements.”

“And I understand that that's how you feel about trade, but what about the idea of tactically using tariffs on other issues to negotiate on other issues?” Bash asked.

“You can't use it to threaten -- you can't have a trade policy based on tweets. What you need is a -- comprehensive trade policies which represents the working people of this country, and not just the CEOs of large corporations. So, do we need to change our trade policies, so that we protect jobs in America? Yes. Do we need to work with other countries to lift up the poorest people around the world? Yes, we do, but Trump's erratic threats and trade policies are not the way to go,” Sanders said.


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