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15 Dec 2023
Ian Hanchett

NextImg:Sinema: Asylum Is Supposed to Be 'Rarely Used' -- 'Crisis' Border Surge Is 'Cruel'

During an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) stated that the asylum system is supposed “to be rarely used” and responded to criticisms of border policy proposals being negotiated as cruel by stating that the “unmitigated crisis” on the border where the Border Patrol is overwhelmed by a surge of people is what’s really cruel.

Sinema said, “I think it’s obvious that the asylum system is being exploited by criminal cartels in Mexico and throughout the world. And it’s not functioning as it was intended to do. We created asylum laws in this country to ensure that people who are facing persecution in other countries could find a safe haven in the United States of America. It was designed to be rarely used and only for those individuals who cannot live safely in their home countries. Unfortunately, the cartels have exploited that system and are using it as a way to make a lot of money for themselves and send economic migrants to the U.S.”

She added, “What we’re seeing on the border today…is an unmitigated crisis. The number of individuals who are streaming into Arizona between our ports of entry, walking through holes in the border fence, numbers in the thousands every day in southern Arizona.”

NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Julie Tsirkin then asked, “So, what do you say then, to Hispanic lawmakers who just yesterday, called the proposals on the table, ‘unimaginably cruel’?”

Sinema responded, “Well, what’s unimaginably cruel are the folks — and the images that we see of folks and families sitting in the desert. Down at Lukeville, there were individuals who were sitting out in the desert without access to restrooms, without food, and without water, simply waiting to be processed by Customs and Border Patrol because we don’t have enough personpower to even manage that inflow. That is a humanitarian crisis. So, the solution is to actually create an orderly process where those who do qualify for asylum have the opportunity to seek it in our country and that those who do not have the opportunity to seek asylum in our country find other means to enter the country lawfully.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett