Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) said if he were president, he would not put migrant families in custody if they “pose no threat or danger to the United States.”

Partial transcript as follows:

BRENNAN: Good morning and welcome to “Face the Nation.” We begin today with former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke. He’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination. We caught up with him yesterday in his hometown of El Paso, on the border of Mexico. So there are about 16,000 migrants in U.S. detention facilities right now. What should happen to them

O’ROURKE: Most of those asylum seeking migrants pose no threat or danger to the United States. We know from past history that when we connect them with case managers in a community, they have a ninety nine percent chance of meeting their court dates and their appointments with ICE. In other words, we do a better job of helping them to follow our laws when they have case managers in the community. And it costs us a tenth of what we pay to keep them in detention and in custody.

BRENNAN: So in other words, catch and release is something you support.

O’ROURKE: No, I wouldn’t call it catch and release. I- I’d call it helping those who are seeking asylum in this country to follow our laws. If at the end of that process they must return to their country of origin, I want to make sure that they follow our laws and go back to the country from which they- they left in the first place. I think we’ve got to ask ourselves, during an administration that has caged children, that has deported their moms back to the very countries from which they’ve fled, that have continued this separation that is visiting a cruelty and a torture on these families, that has lost the lives of six children within our custody- whether or not we can do better and live our values, and whether or not there will be a reckoning and accountability for this.

BRENNAN: But- but just to put a fine point on it: you’re talking about 16,000 people in custody right now. Are you saying that migrants who cross, and do so not through port of entry, who are here through illegal means, essentially, that they would not be detained in an O’Rourke administration?

O’ROURKE: Not necessarily in every case. But I think the vast majority of families and children who are fleeing the deadliest countries on the face of the planet, who are seeking asylum in this country – they don’t try to flee arrest. They don’t try to evade detection. Those families pose no threats or risk to this country –

BRENNAN: Should they be detained together, those families?

O’ROURKE: Those families, if they pose no threat to this country or to the communities in which they are apprehended should be released with a case manager who ensures that they follow our laws, that they attend their court hearings, that they meet their appointments with an ICE officer.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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