(CNSNews.com) - Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement for Customs and Border Protection, told a House Homeland Security subcommittee on Tuesday that if migrants seeking asylum cross the border illegally, it’s a crime.
During Tuesday’s hearing titled, “Assessing the Adequacy of DHS Efforts to Prevent Child Deaths in Custody,” Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) asked Hastings whether those seeking asylum are criminals.
Green: Well, let me ask you this. Are asylees criminals?
Hastings: Are the what? I’m sorry, sir.|
Green: Are the people who seek asylum criminals?
Hastings: People who cross the border illegally--
Green: I didn’t ask you about people crossing the border illegally. You know what an asylee is, do you not?
Hastings: We have people--
Green: Do you know the definition of asylee?
Hastings: I do.
Green: Then my question is, are asylees, asylees - people who are seeking asylum - asylees, are they criminals?
Hastings: We’re asking them to go to a port of entry to--
Green: That has little to do with my question, sir. My question is, are they criminals? Why are you evading? Why will you not state what you know to be the truth? Why are you doing this?
Hastings: If they cross the border illegally, they’ve committed a crime.
Green: Are asylees - people seeking asylum - criminals?
Hastings: Again, if they cross the border illegally, it is a crime.
Green: Where do you find this in the law to support your position that people who are seeking asylum are criminals? Are the babies criminals? This is why you treat them the way that you treat them? You perceive them as criminals? Babies aren’t criminals. They have no malice of forethought. What would you recommend we do to prevent future deaths?
Hastings: As I’ve discussed, sir, we’re taking a lot of those actions and have been taking those actions for quite some time. I think we’re taking the right steps now to prevent further deaths. It will be difficult as we’ve explained to say we’re going to prevent every death. The people that we encounter on the border, many of whom have traveled over 2,000 miles or more, some have never seen health care. Some have never had treatment. Some may not have eaten or drank anything, but we’re running into them at the obviously many times in their worst condition worst case scenario, and we’re doing everything we can to get them immediate treatment and aid when that’s the case.
Green: Again, what can we do, meaning Congress?
Hastings: As I mentioned earlier, I think taking some of the actions for the double standards for non-contiguous UACs. That is one. To quit drawing UACs up to our border, because we’re unable to return them unless it’s Mexico or Canada, and then I think as I mentioned earlier, the Flores fix, being able to hold everyone together, the entire family in their proper setting while they go through their expeditious hearing.
Green: For edification purposes, UAC I find to be a pejorative.
Hastings: It’s in the law --
Green: I understand, but I still find it to be a pejorative. These are children - UACs.