Former Attorney General Eric Holder said he is concerned over recent criticisms many Democrats have made of former President Barack Obama’s immigration policies and issued a warning about 2020 candidates embracing calls to decriminalize border crossings.
Several progressive Democratic lawmakers and 2020 presidential candidates have condemned Obama’s administration for deporting scores of illegal immigrants. Eric Holder, who served in Obama’s Cabinet during most of his time in office, defended the policy saying, “The emphasis … was on people who had criminal records, people who posed … a public safety risk.”
Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden also came under fire by debate moderator Jorge Ramos on Thursday for the Obama-era deportations.
“You served as vice president in an administration that deported 3 million people, the most ever in U.S. history,” Ramos said. “Did you do anything to prevent those deportations? … You’ve been asked this question before and refused to answer, so let me try once again: are you prepared to say tonight that you and President Obama made a mistake about deportations? Why should Latinos trust you?”
Biden defended the record and shifted accusation to the Trump administration by suggesting that Obama didn’t “lock people up in cages.” Biden was later interrupted during his closing remarks by protesters chanting, “Three million deportations.” One protester was seen wearing a shirt that said, “No human being is illegal on stolen land.”
Holder rejected the idea that there should be no deportations. “Democrats have to understand that … borders do mean something,” he said in an interview that aired on Saturday.
He was also asked about whether or not he supported the notion floated by some Democrats to decriminalize unauthorized border crossings. “No, I don’t think that’s right … It might send the wrong signal,” he said. Reiterating his point, Holder said that decriminalization would “certainly take a tool away from the Justice Department.”
Holder also addressed that some Democrats’ progressive policy proposals do not offer a realistic possibility for the future of the country, saying, “We need to look for solutions to the problems that we confront that are consistent with who we are as a party … but also the kinds of things that we are going to be able to deliver.”
Holder concluded by saying he hoped the field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates would be “realistic” in their proposed policies.
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