New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson favors more border enforcement and comprehensive immigration reform.
(CNN) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson came to the defense of immigrants and criticized the proposal to build a fence along the border with Mexico during a CNN debate Thursday night.
"Two years ago, I was the first governor to declare a border emergency because the federal government wasn't doing its job in stopping the flow of drugs and people," Richardson said. "You know what, we should stop demonizing immigrants, we should stop doing that."
Richardson said he would create a path to legalization, punish employers that hire illegal workers, strengthen the presence of the National Guard along the border and improve diplomacy with Mexico. He slammed Congress for failing to pass immigration reform, saying it's less popular than "Dick Cheney and HMOs."
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich