Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) claimed she wouldn’t detain illegal immigrants caught crossing the border into the United States.
As IJR previously reported, some of the detention facilities used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have hit capacity forcing Border Patrol agents to release migrants into the U.S. on their own recognizance until their immigration case can be heard.
Because of the capacity issues at the border, ICE officials announced plans to send migrants to other facilities across the U.S., including one facility in Gillibrand’s home state of New York.
Despite the crisis at the border and the impact on her home state, 2020 candidate Gillibrand claimed she would end the practice of detaining migrants who are caught entering the U.S. without a valid immigration claim.
During an interview on “Face the Nation,” Gillibrand told host Margaret Brennan that she would “not lock up” migrant families.
“President [Donald] Trump’s immigration policy is inhumane, ineffective and wrong. I cannot tell you how infuriating it is for our president to still be separating children from their parents at our border in the most inhumane way, then locking them up and paying for it, paying for-profit prison systems to do this. As president of the United States, I would not fund any for-profit prisons, I would not lock up these families. I would have a humane immigration policy where people seeking asylum and people seeking refuge in this country would have lawyers and have a proper asylum process.”
Gillibrand explained that she would address the crisis at the border by beefing up the legal system by adding more attorneys and judges to expedite the asylum claims process. As IJR previously reported, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) proposed a plan that would add 500 judges at the border and change the laws that prevent children from being detained with their parents after 20 days. His plan would also prevent families from claiming asylum at the border to discourage new migrants from arriving.
Brennan asked Gillibrand if she would be willing to work with Graham to pass this legislation since it would end family separation and bolster the legal network, but she said she wouldn’t.
“As president of the United States, I wouldn’t use detention system at all. In fact what I would do is actually fund the border security measures that are anti-terrorism, anti-human trafficking, anti-drug trafficking, and anti-gun trafficking. And I would defund these for-profit prison systems that are harming children and harming families who are seeking asylum.”
Brennan pushed back on Gillibrand and asked were migrant families would go while they await their court dates.
“They don’t need to be incarcerated,” said Gillibrand. “If they’re given a lawyer and given a process, they will follow it. They can go into the community in the way we used to handle these cases under the Department of Justice.”
While Gillibrand noted that she believes migrants will follow the legal process, that hasn’t been the case. As IJR previously reported, 87 percent of migrants released into the U.S. on their own recognizance never show up for their court date.
This is not the first time Gillibrand has vocalized her distaste for immigration law enforcement. She has also called for ICE to be abolished.