Bernie Sanders calls immigration surge at the border a 'serious problem' but says there are more pressing issues at hand

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesSen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
  • Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said the flow of migrants illegally crossing the US-Mexico border is a “serious problem.”
  • He clarified that he does not believe it should be characterised as a “crisis.”
  • Sanders also said there are more pressing issues at hand, including wages, healthcare, and climate change.
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Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called the ongoing surge of illegal immigrants crossing the United States-Mexico border a “serious problem” but also condemned actions taken by President Donald Trump to stem the flow of migrants.

Sanders, who like many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have strongly opposed Trump’s immigration policies, would not go as far as to characterise the border surge as a “crisis.”

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“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 a thousand miles with their children,” Sanders said in an interview with Dana Bash on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning. “It is an issue we have to deal with. But the issue of climate change, the issue of tens of millions of Americans not having health insurance, the fact that half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, those are more serious crises.”

Sanders has in the past opposed policies that would create “open borders,” suggesting reforms need to be made as it relates to migrants illegally crossing into the United States.

During an April campaign event, Sanders pushed back on an attendee who said he was “an advocate for open borders.”

“What we need is comprehensive immigration reform,” he said. “If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world. And I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it. So that is not my position.”

Sanders’official immigration reform proposal on his campaign website calls for creating a pathway to citizenship and changing immigration enforcement, “including fundamentally restructuring ICE.”

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