2020 Dem Presidential Hopeful Castro: We Should Not Detain Refugees Seeking Asylum

Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” former Obama HUD Secretary and former mayor of San Antonio Julián Castro said he did not believe “that we should have family detention for people that are seeking asylum or refugee status.”

On Saturday, Castro announced he is running for president in 2020.

Partial transcript as follows:

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president visited your home state of Texas this week, went to the border, said there is a humanitarian and national security crisis. Do you agree with him that there is a crisis at the border?

CASTRO: What I believe is that he’s created a tragedy at the border. This policy of separating children from their parents and the terrible way that Customs and Border Protection has managed its responsibilities, including the deaths of two children within the last few weeks. That’s a real tragedy. And, you know, the folks down on the border know – and many of them have said – in fact, I just saw one border resident the other day on camera that said that a wall is not the answer. That we can have strong border security with personnel, with technology, but that the wall is not the answer. So the president may have his rhetoric, but everybody else has the facts right that a wall isn’t the answer.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well that family separation policy has been paused at least. But there are a record number of family units crossing the border, and that creates a lot of challenges. So what would you do? Would you extend the amount of time that families can be held together in detention?

CASTRO: I don’t believe that we should have family detention for people that are seeking asylum or refugee status so that we should develop other ways to ensure that people are processed, that we’re able to keep track of them in the country. And we have developed some ways to do that but that we don’t detain them the way that we have been. So no, I don’t agree with that. The other thing I’ll say Margaret, and this is very important is, I hope that folks remember that the president said that he wanted to do this family separation policy because it would deter more families coming from these countries. And actually, the exact opposite happened. And so he’s failed. He’s a failed leader on this issue, and now he’s just trying to stoke his political base by bringing up the wall all the time. And it’s just a failure of leadership all around. I would end this kind of family detention. I would make sure that we invest in sensible, smart and effective border security that includes personnel, that includes the smart use of technology, and that does not scapegoat these immigrants but tries to look for a way that we can get to comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken immigration system.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve been calling immigration system broken for some time, and you were critical even under the Obama administration, specifically about their high level of deportations. So what do you offer as an alternative if you’re not going to detain and you’re not going to deport what do you do with illegal immigrants?

CASTRO: Well, what I believe we could do and what the Obama administration did do I believe toward the end of its tenure was to look at things like ankle monitors so that you’re able to monitor where people are in the country and ensure that they report back when they need to and that they are part of, you know, legal proceedings. But we also need to be serious about recognizing the right of people to seek asylum. And the president is playing games with this, blocking people’s right to seek asylum. I would change that. I would make sure that we push as hard as possible for comprehensive immigration reform so that for the people who are already here, if they’ve been law-abiding, if they pay a fine, that- that they can get an earned path to citizenship. I still believe that that should be part of the answer.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.