LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — California Attorney General Kamala Harris made waves this week after telling the San Francisco Chronicle that “an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.”
On Friday, in an exclusive interview with CBSLA, Harris echoed that comment.
“An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal,” she reiterated. “I’m a career prosecutor. I’ve personally prosecuted everything from low-level offenses to homicides. Unfortunately, I know what crime looks like. I know what a criminal looks like who’s committing a crime. An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.”
Those comments, however, have struck a chord with some who say Harris’ stance is in direct conflict with the Constitution.
“People who are sworn to uphold the law should be doing so,” Ira Mehlman with the Federation for Immigration Reforms said. “The laws are there for a particular reason. Whether Ms. Harris or the other politicians in California agree with them or not, they are obligated to carry out those laws.”
But Harris’ comments were met with praise at the downtown offices of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
“That’s a great step forward,” Polo Morales of CHIRLA said. “There’s folks that have been 10, 15, 20 years. They have children that are citizens that are residents. For us to say, ‘Everybody is a criminal. Deport everybody’ doesn’t making any sense.”
But Jon Fleischman, an influential conservative blogger who runs FlashReport.org, says Harris is playing politics with the immigration issue.
“Right now, she’s clearly pandering to the most extreme, left-wing elements of her own party,” he said. “The people who are coming into America in blatant violation of federal immigration aren’t criminals is to redefine the word ‘criminal’ as to no longer mean ‘committing a crime.’ ”
In that same interview with the Chronicle, Harris dismissed the stance from some Republicans that securing the border first is a must before any immigration law can be passed.