Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Sunday that he opposes open borders, because such a policy would cause migrants from poverty-stricken parts of the world to flood into the U.S.
The Vermont senator corrected an audience member at a town hall in Oskaloosa, Iowa, who described him as “an advocate for open borders” and asked him how the U.S. would be able to fund health care and other services while also embracing such a policy.
“I’m afraid you may be getting your information wrong. That’s not my view,” Sanders responded. “What we need is comprehensive immigration reform.”
“If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world,” he continued. “I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it. So that is not my position.”
Sanders, who has yet to release his official immigration proposal, has long backed a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children by their parents.
In the summer of 2015, during his first presidential run, the 76-year-old senator even pinned the policy of open borders on the other side of the aisle.
“That’s a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States,” Sanders told Vox at the time. “It would make everybody in America poorer. You’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that.”
“Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them,” he continued. “I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.”