Sen. Dan Sullivan addressed the Trump Administration’s immigration policies in Fairbanks on Sunday, emphasizing that the federal government is not currently set up to properly manage a flood of immigrants seeking asylum.
Sullivan said the federal government needs to provide new detention centers and additional judges, to more efficiently process a nationwide backlog of 700,000 immigrants.
”You got to keep families together, but you’ve got to have facilities to help do that,” Sullivan said. “If you keep families together and expedite the processing, you can essentially tell the child and the mom, ‘OK, you qualify for asylum,’ or ‘you don’t.'”
Sullivan stressed that seeking a better economic life does not qualify immigrants for asylum. Sullivan has co-sponsored two bills addressing the immigration situation, which he said has suffered from executive branch policy swings, noting that the previous approach, known as “catch and release”, was also problematic.
“You (had) people who were coming to the country illegally, and then they’re essentially saying, ‘OK come back for your hearing in four years.’ And that’s what’s been going on, too. Well, guess what? None of those people show up,” Sullivan said. “And when that word gets out, that that’s happening, it actually creates a flood of more migrants, many of whom don’t qualify for asylum.”
Sullivan said the bipartisan legislation he supports will provide a long term solution to the problem.