EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The migrant surge that has tied up federal government resources and officers requires immediate solutions, say two local members of Congress, who have different views on how to solve the problem.
On Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a 32% jump of apprehensions along the Southwestern border in May, with a total of 144,278 migrants taken into custody. Migrant apprehensions this fiscal year have reached 491,975, which is almost the number in 2018.
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, stated that CBP faces a worsening crisis and suggested a three-pronged solution.
In the short term, she says, civilians should take over immigrant-processing duties to allow CBP officers and Border Patrol agents to return to their regular assignments.
CBP officers are in charge of inspections at ports-of-entry, and their absence has led to increased wait times at international crossings that have slowed down cargo shipments from maquiladoras and other industry, and have inconvenienced travelers and commuters, KTSM has previously reported.
Escobar wants the federal government to reimburse border cities like El Paso for financial infrastructure contributions during the crisis and to allow non-government organizations into processing shelters to ease the burden of immigration officers and contractors.
In the mid-term, Escobar urges the Trump administration to “evaluate the true root causes” of the migrant surge from Central, South America and the Caribbean so that it can come up with adequate strategies. She also wants to reinstate in-country processing for minors and to hire more immigration judges and assistants.
In the long term, Escobar urges the federal government to work with leaders in the Americas to come up with solutions to cope with the exodus, audit and reform the Department of Homeland Security so it is well-equipped and “responsive” to evolving immigration challenges.
“Regardless of how challenging the situation, we should never respond with cruelty or inhumanity. Other countries have dealt compassionately with more significant humanitarian challenges. We can, too,” she stated on social media.
Meanwhile, Republican Will Hurd, who represents a portion of Far East El Paso in Congress, favors reforming asylum laws.
“What is happening on our border is indeed a crisis, and I am taking action in Congress to fix our outdated asylum laws that encourage illegal crossings, exacerbate wait times and further strain the men and women of our Border Patrol and local communities,” he said.
He agrees that Texas communities should be reimbursed for the costs incurred from the influx of migrants.
“I will continue to do all that I can to put an end to this crisis and address the root causes of mass migration from the Northern Triangle” of Central America — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Hurd has proposed the Asylum Reform Act of 2019.
The proposal would fix an asylum system that “encourages illegal immigration, diverts resources from those with legitimate claims and, in many cases, actually rewards the kingpin human smugglers,” the Republican said.
The act would limit eligibility for asylum to migrants who enter the United States at a port-of-entry, prohibit migrants who arrive from Mexico or Canada unless they have already been denied asylum in those two countries, modify the “credible fear standard” currently applied, allow DHS to remove asylum seekers to a third country, like Mexico, and extend the statute of limitations for immigration fraud from five to 10 years.