Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen announced on Thursday that the United States and Mexico have reached an agreement, requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims are considered.
In a statement released by the Department of Homeland Security Nielsen said the new policy replaces “catch and release” with “catch and return.”
“Today we are announcing historic measures to bring the illegal immigration crisis under control. We will confront this crisis head on, uphold the rule of law, and strengthen our humanitarian commitments,” she stated.
Nielsen explained: “Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States, where many skip their court dates. Instead, they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico.”
The secretary said that the new policy will reduce illegal immigration by removing a key incentive of easy entry into the U.S. through taking advantage of laws governing asylum.
The DHS news release offered as evidence that the asylum system is being gamed that over the last five years seen a 2000 percent increase in aliens claiming “credible fear,” which is the first step in securing legal immigration status as an asylum seeker.
“As a result, the United States has an overwhelming asylum backlog of more than 786,000 pending cases. Last year alone the number of asylum claims soared 67 percent compared to the previous year,” according to the DHS.
“Most of these claims are not meritorious—in fact nine out of ten asylum claims are not granted by a federal immigration judge. However, by the time a judge has ordered them removed from the United States, many have vanished.”
Nielsen testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday about the policy change of having asylum seekers wait in Mexico, while their claim is considered.
“All too frequently, if (migrants) say the magic words they get a free pass into America,” she said.
Under the new procedures, if migrants seeking entry into the U.S. are “granted asylum by a U.S. judge, they will be welcomed into America. If they are not, they will be removed to their own countries.”
“Let me be clear: We will undertake these steps consistent with our domestic and international obligations, including our humanitarian commitments,” Nielsen said.
“We have notified the Mexican government of our intended actions and in response, Mexico has informed us that they will commit to implementing essential measures on their side of the border to facilitate this process by providing humanitarian assistance.”
Nielsen announces new DHS policy to halt illegal immigration, saying immigrants arriving into the U.S. from Mexico illegally or without proper documentation may be returned to Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. https://t.co/hgKdLEyNuH pic.twitter.com/e1W7zTI3JT
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 20, 2018
Democrat Rep. Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois tore into Nielsen at Thursday’s hearing, claiming she and the Trump administration would have barred Jesus, Mary and Joseph from entering the U.S. as refugees.
According to the biblical account, the three sought asylum in Egypt after King Herod issued a decree calling for all boys two years of age or younger in-and-around Bethlehem to be killed.
WATCH: Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez MELTS DOWN during hearing with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, suggests Trump admin. would have helped kill baby Jesus…
Then he storms out before Kirstjen can respond 😳 pic.twitter.com/NYyMsp5Tqc
— BlazeTV (@BlazeTV) December 20, 2018
“Shame on us for wearing our badge of Christianity during Christmas, and allowing the secretary to come here and lie,” Gutiérrez said.
GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas later offered to Nielsen, “It grieves me for anyone who’s part of this committee to slander you and be remorseless when they make slanderous comments about you or mean-spirited remarks about people in the administration who simply want to enforce the law.”
GOHMERT: “If Mary & Joseph were trying to come into the US & King Herod was trying to kill everybody, wouldn’t they be eligible for asylum in the US?”
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 20, 2018
The lawmaker asked if Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have been allowed entry into the U.S. under current asylum laws as they fled from King Herod, and she replied they would have.
Gohmert responded, “Yeah, so (Gutierrez) can scratch that from his list of concerns. They’d get into the United States.”
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