By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) - Immigration was a hot-button issue in the first Democratic presidential debate Wednesday, with Texas Senator Julian Castro criticizing the administration's current policy and getting into a fiery exchange with fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke.
Castro gave an impassioned answer on the current state of immigration on the country's southern border with Mexico, which has been in the news in recent weeks over the treatment of migrants in detention centers and the photo of a father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande River trying to reach the U.S.
"We saw that image today that broke our hearts," Castro said, referring to the photo. "It should also piss us all off."
The senator then went on to explain his policy, which aimed to undo the executive orders President Donald Trump enacted in relation to the border and to decriminalize border crossings.
Both Senator Cory Booker and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke gave their answers partially in Spanish.
However, while O'Rourke was attempting to explain his immigration policy, he was interrupted by Castro, who criticized him for his stance on border crossings.
Castro and O'Rourke reportedly have a rivalry dating back to when O'Rourke ran for a seat in the Texas Senate, the same seat Castro's twin brother Joaquin was looking to grab.
Both candidates have put immigration at the forefront of their platform.
"I just think it's a mistake, and I think if you truly want to change the system, then we've got to repeal that section," Castro said about the laws that criminalize border crossings.
"If you did your homework on this issue, then you would know that we should repeal this section," Castro said to O'Rourke.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the Democratic frontrunners, has shown her support for Castro's plan.
"We must pass comprehensive immigration reform that is in line with our values, creates a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants including our DREAMers, and protects our borders," Warren said Tuesday in a statement to The Huffington Post.