Sanders: 'We'll Have Strong Border Protections,' But Doesn't Explain

By Susan Jones | July 31, 2019 | 6:29am EDT
Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are the far-left of their party. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

( - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants to give illegal aliens free health care and free college tuition. "Why won't this drive even more people to come to the U.S. illegally?" he was asked at Tuesday's CNN-hosted debate in Detroit:

"Because we'll have strong border protections," Sanders said -- without explaining what that means. "But the main point I want to make," he continued, "is that what Trump is doing through his racism and his xenophobia, is demonizing a group of people. And as president, I will end that demonization.

"If a mother and a child walk thousands of miles on a dangerous path, in my view, they are not criminals. They are people fleeing violence. And I think the main thing that we've got to do -- among many others, and Beto made this point -- we've got to ask ourselves, "Why are people walking 2,000 miles to a strange country where they don't know the language?"

"So what we will do, the first week we are in the White House, is bring the entire hemisphere together to talk about how we rebuild Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador so people do not have to flee their own countries," Sanders said.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock does not advocate health insurance for illegal aliens.

"Why not?" he was asked.

"We've got 100,000 people showing up at the border right now," Bullock said. "If we decriminalize entry, if we give health care to everyone, we'll have multiples of that. Don't take my word, that was President Obama's Homeland Security Secretary that said that.

"The biggest problem right now that we have with immigration, it's Donald Trump. He's using immigration to not only rip apart families, but rip apart this country. We can actually get to the point where we have safe borders, where we have a path to citizenship, where we have opportunities for Dreamers," Bullock said.

"And you don't have to decriminalize everything. What you have to do is have a president in there with the judgment and the decency to treat someone that comes to the border like one of our own."

Bullock did not explain how we get to the point where we have "safe borders."

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg also mentioned border security, without saying how it would be achieved:

"Americans want comprehensive immigration reform. And frankly, we've been talking about the same framework for my entire adult lifetime, protections for Dreamers; making sure that -- that we have a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented; cleaning up lawful immigration.

We know what to do. We know that border security can be part of that package, and we can still be a nation of laws. The problem is we haven't had the will to get it done in Washington. And now we have a president who could fix it in a month, because there is that bipartisan agreement, but he needs it to be a crisis rather than an achievement. That will end on my watch," Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg said crossing the border without permission should still be illegal:

"We can argue over the finer points of which parts of this ought to be handled by civil law and which parts ought to be handled by criminal law. But we've got a crisis on our hands. And it's not just a crisis of immigration; it's a crisis of cruelty and incompetence that has created a humanitarian disaster on our southern border. It is a stain on the United States of America."

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