By Ana Campoy, Quartz
The two Democratic candidates from Texas sparred over an obscure part of the US Code during the first primary debate last week.
Julián Castro, former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development secretary, wants to repeal Section 1325, which states that entering the US between ports of entry is a crime. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke, from El Paso, wants to keep it.
It’s a narrow question, but it sheds light on the convoluted way the US handles illegal immigration. At the first level, US authorities deal with it through a civil process. The consequence for someone who comes into the country without permission is straightforward: deportation. But on top of that, authorities can also choose to funnel that same immigrant for the same action through the criminal system, using Section 1325.
What would happen if that second layer disappeared and crossing the border illegally were no longer a crime? The answer is more complicated than you may think.
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection