Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said at the Democratic debate that his healthcare plan would cover illegal immigrants.
“I happen to believe when I talk about health care it is a human right, and that applies to all people in this country,” he told the crowd at Fox Theatre in Detroit on Tuesday, July 30.
Other candidates for the Democratic nomination for president disagreed.
Americans pay for their healthcare, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said. “Undocumented people can pay for their healthcare, too,” he added.
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) July 31, 2019
Candidates were asked whether illegally crossing the border should be decriminalized and whether illegal immigrants should be covered by their healthcare proposals.
Ryan said he would not decriminalize border crossings.
“Right now if you want to come into the country you should at least ring the doorbell,” he said.
Former Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke (D-Texas) also said he would not decriminalize border crossings.
“In my administration, after we have waived citizenship fees for green card holders, more than 9 million of our fellow Americans, free Dreamers who many fear of deportation and stop criminally prosecuting families and children for seeking asylum and refuge and for-profit detention and so that no family has to make that 2,000 mile journey, then I expect that people who come here follow our laws and we reserve the right to criminally prosecute them,” he said.
Only 27 percent of respondents to a Marist/NPR poll this month said that illegally crossing the border should be decriminalized. Forty-seven percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Independents, and 87 percent of Republicans thought it was a bad idea.
Most of the candidates during a debate last month said they would change crossings from a criminal offense to a civil one. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Sanders, Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)—who has since withdrawn from the race, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, businessman Andrew Yang, author Marianne Williamson, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised their hands to indicate they’d support the change.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) was the only one who didn’t raise his hand.
“That criminalization is the basis for family separation,” Buttigieg said at the time.
“You do away with that, it’s no longer possible.”
Buttigieg shifted his answer on Tuesday, telling the moderator: “If fraud is involved, then that’s suitable for the criminal statute. If not, then that should be handled under civil law,” noted the America Rising PAC.
— America Rising (@AmericaRising) July 31, 2019
The first night featured the following candidates: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.); former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas); Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio); Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); and author Marianne Williamson.
The second night, July 31, will feature the following candidates: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.); Julian Castro, Housing and Urban Development Secretary during the Obama administration; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and businessman Andrew Yang.
The lineups for each night were decided in a live, random draw. Candidates had to meet one of the following thresholds: receive at least 1 percent support in three polls from certain pollsters or receive campaign contributions from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors each from 20 different states.
Candidates who will not participate in either of the debate nights include Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam, billionaire investor and activist Tom Steyer, and former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.).