Former Attorney General Eric Holder defended his old boss and expressed caution when discussing Democratic presidential candidates’ growing embrace of more lax immigration laws.
While speaking on CNN’s “The Axe Files” program, Holder defended the Obama administration’s deportation record and warned Democrats against border decriminalization, a proposal that is becoming mainstream among the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates.
“There is some angst among the Left about the fact that there were hundreds of thousands of deportations a year. The [Obama] administration was pretty robust in that area,” host David Alexrod said during the interview, which aired Saturday.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) September 15, 2019
Holder, who served as former President Barack Obama’s attorney general, brushed the criticism off by noting that, of those who were deported during his administration, there was an “emphasis” placed those with criminal records and those who posed a public safety risk.
“Democrats have to understand that we do have to have — borders mean something,” he said afterward.
The comments come as numerous presidential hopefuls within the Democratic Party have come out in support of border decriminalization. More specifically, they would like to amend Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the section of the U.S. legal code that makes unauthorized entry into the county a misdemeanor.
There are those who would like to take this proposal even further, such as Texas Democrat Julian Castro, who wants to decriminalize illegal re-entry, a felony offense that could land an individual in prison for a minimum of two years.
Holder said Saturday that he doesn’t agree with such a stance.
“No, I don’t think that’s right. I mean, the law that is on the books has been there for about 100 years now or so,” he said. “It might send the wrong signal, but it would certainly take a tool away from the Justice Department that it might want to use for an individual case and for some reason.”
The former attorney general went on to say that Democrats need to be able to deliver on what they promise, suggesting that decriminalizing unauthorized entry into the entire U.S. was simply not a feasible proposal to be making.
Holder is far from the only Democrat to express trepidation over border decriminalization.
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Vice News in August that “of course” it was a bad idea. Obama’s former Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Jonson, took his criticism even further, saying that such such a proposal was “way too far to the left” of where most Americans stand during an interview on Wednesday.
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