NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Senator Bernie Sanders took a tour of the international border in Nogales on Saturday.
The presidential hopeful, along with his wife Jane Sanders, met with U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, and two DREAMers. A number of people on the Mexican side of the fence cheered him on.
In a press conference held yards away from the border fence, Sanders echoed the words of Pope Francis.
"Pope Francis has made the point that we should be building more bridges, not walls," Sanders said. "And we should treat our fellow human beings with dignity and respect."
Sanders said he wanted to see for himself the conditions on the border and articulate a different vision. He envisions an immigration policy that works to bring families together not tear them apart.
Sanders criticized Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Donald Trump, saying Mexico is our neighbor and to insult an entire nation is "not befitting of anybody, let alone a candidate for the President of the United States."
"Trumps labeling of Mexicans as rapists and criminals repulses all Americans of good will," Sanders said.
"People can disagree in this country about anything, including immigration reform," Sanders said. "But bigotry, and racism, and xenophobia and attacks against people in a very personal way is not what this country is supposed to be about."
Sanders believes the "so-called" immigration problem is a "trumped" up problem, and that now more people are leaving the U.S. for Mexico rather than coming here, citing recent Pew research.'
Having a fair and humane immigration policy doesn't mean we don't have a secure border, Sanders said. While we must have a secure border, Sanders says it doesn't have to mean building a wall. There is other technology available like high grade cameras and thermal imaging detection, he said.
In his first 100 days as president, Sanders said he would expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), and would "end the deportation regime which is dividing so many families and sowing so much fear."
Sanders said he would take executive action to allow undocumented people who have been in the U.S. for at least five years to stay in the country without fear of being deported. He also believes immigrants should be allowed to return to the U.S. if they would have been allowed to stay if the 2013 immigration bill had made into not law.
Grijalva said the important point is that issues along the border are not simplistic, and it's much more complex than just building a wall.
"It's organized crime on both sides of the border that have contributed to the destabilization of the border," Grijalva said.
Sanders has a rally planned in Phoenix on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.