Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro lambasted Donald Trump on Wednesday after the President’s move to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, arguing that he was “effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free” but at the same time he was “caging kids on the border” with this decision.
“You asked the question about how we are going to get people to trust us again? The first thing is we got to boot Donald Trump out of the Oval Office,” Castro, a former Housing and Urban Development secretary, said during the 2020 debate in Ohio. “I also want people to think — the folks this week that saw those images of ISIS prisoners running free — to think about how absurd it is that this president is caging kids on the border and effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free.”
Castro’s comments referred to reports of hundreds of ISIS supporters escaping a Kurdish-established detention camp about 35 miles south of the Syrian-Turkish border following a Turkish airstrike. The escapes occurred Sunday, the same day Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that roughly 1,000 U.S. troops would be removed from northern Syria as part of a “deliberate withdrawal” from the region, The Hill reported.
U.S. forces deployed in northern Syria had been assisting the Kurdish YPG, which leads the Syrian Democratic Forces. Turkey considers the Kurdish-led forces, which have proved to be among the U.S.’s most effective allies in its fight against ISIS, to be a terrorist insurgency.
The move has sparked bipartisan outrage, with many voicing fears that it could lead to a resurgence of ISIS in the region. Castro labeled the decision a “tremendous mistake” and a “disaster” during the debate.
Castro has made policies focused on reforming immigration a center of his 2020 campaign. The former San Antonio mayor has repeatedly called out Trump over the administration’s effort to crack down on immigration.