Julian Castro, fresh off a strong performance in Wednesday's night's 2020 Democratic presidential debate in Miami, appeared on ABC's "The View" on Thursday, telling the hosts, "I knew coming into the debate I needed to introduce myself to a lot of people who haven't heard of me. I think I did that last night."
The second Democratic debate, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, is Thursday night.
He said that the topic was something he wanted to bring up at the debate, telling "The View" that O’Rourke wants to keep Section 1325 of U.S. immigration law and that “if you keep that in place, the ability to separate families stays in place.”
Castro told the hosts that under his immigration plan, he would treat migrant border crossings as a civil violation, instead of a criminal violation, "and end family separation" adding that family separation "is a cruel practice."
Castro defended his plan, saying that those who cross the border would still face repercussions that could include deportation. Castro dismissed the idea that his plan is calling for open borders, calling it a "right wing talking point" and pointed to 654 miles of fencing along the border, along with personnel, planes, boats, helicopters, guns, security cameras. Castro added that "we shouldn't criminalize desperation, we should criminalize crime" since many of the migrants are fleeing poverty and violence at home.
Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and housing chief during the Obama administration, drew attention when he got into a heated back-and-forth with O'Rourke, with Castro saying that O'Rourke's policy criminalized families attempting to gain entry into the United States.
O'Rourke was asked what he would do on day one as president in terms of immigration and spoke about the image of a drowned father and daughter seen lying face down in Rio Grande river near Brownsville, Texas, while trying to cross from Mexico into the U.S. O'Rourke said "we would accept them into this country and follow our own asylum laws. We would not build walls, would not put kids in cages. In fact, we would spare no expense to reunite the families."
Castro interrupted saying "Your policy criminalized ... a lot of these families." O'Rourke ended by saying "We would not detain any family fleeing violence" and "We would implement a family case management program, so they could be cared for in the community at a fraction of the cost."
Castro responded by attacking O'Rourke's record. "Let's be very clear," Castro said. "The reason that they're separating these little children from their families is that they're using section 1325 of that act which criminalizes coming across the border to incarcerate the parents then separate them. Some of us on this stage have called to end that section, to terminate it. Some like congressman O'Rourke have not. And I want to challenge all of the candidates to do that. I just think it's a mistake, Beto. I think it's a mistake. I think that if you truly want to change the system, that we got to repeal that section."
O'Rourke defended his record, saying that while in Congress, he "helped to introduce legislation that would ensure that we don't criminalize those who are seeking asylum and refuge in this country."
But that wasn't good enough for Castro, who told O'Rourke "I think that you should do your homework on this issue, if you did your homework on this issue you would know that we should repeal this section."
Castro has struggled with gaining traction in the polls since joining the race in January. He told ABC News on Wednesday that his name recognition is not currently as high as some other candidates, but said he hoped that by the end of the debate, people will better understand his experience and vision for the country.