Jason Hopkins on February 6, 2020
A New Hampshire voter confronted Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday about his seemingly evolved immigration platform, pointing out that he used to be opposed to “open borders.”
While speaking at a campaign event in Derry, New Hampshire, one woman in the crowd accused Sanders of inconsistency regarding his immigration positions. The woman noted that, at one time, he used to refer to “open borders” as a Koch brothers-led scheme to import low-wage workers, but now he has turned down his rhetoric against illegal immigration.
“One issue that you have not been consistent on is open borders. When you first ran, you said it was a Koch brothers scheme, and seemed to recognize that low-wage workers being dumped into the country does not help low-wage workers,” the woman began, adding that her family stands at 134% of the poverty line.
“Can you please explain why you changed on that issue? Did you have to change? Because donors seem to want the low-wage workers,” she added.
Sanders, who is a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, pushed back on the idea that he has changed.
“What I believe in absolutely is — I don’t believe in ‘open borders.’ Open borders means anybody can come from any place in the world. There’s no country in the history of the world, I think, that has ever had that view. That is not my view, but my view is that we have 11 million undocumented — many of those workers, by the way, are being exploited right now,” Sanders said.
“Trump wants to throw everybody out of the country. If he threw people out of the country, the price of food in this country would skyrocket. Who do you think is picking the crops and planting all over this country?” he continued.
This is not the first time Sanders has been approached about his pivot on immigration. The New York Times editorial board, during its review of the Democratic candidates before their endorsement, entered into a back-and-forth with the senator in January over his previous declarations that illegal immigration and guest worker programs lower wages for American employees.
Since the beginning of the Trump administration, Sanders has veered sharply to the left on a number of immigration issues.
The self-described democratic socialist has come out in favor decriminalization of illegal immigration, and has announced that he would immediately ban nearly all deportations if elected to the White House. He would also issue executive orders undoing virtually all of President Donald Trump’s immigration directives.
Sanders also said he would completely reorganize the Department of Homeland Security, including the dismantling of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). More recently, Sanders said he was open to using taxpayer money to tear down sections of the southern border wall.
Sanders in the past as attempted to brush away his past comments on open borders by noting it was something he said “250 years ago.” In actuality, the comments were made as recently as 2015.
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