(CNSNews.com) – During a House Oversight Committee hearing on migrant children, Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) read a quote from former President Barack Obama illustrating that he, like President Donald Trump, proposed allowing migrant children to “apply in country” rather than make the “dangerous journey” to the U.S. to make such claims.
“In talking about the situation at the border, the president said, ‘There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is a humanitarian or refugee status that a family might be eligible for. If that were the case, it would be better for them to apply in country rather than to make the various dangerous journey all the way up to Texas to make those same claims.’
Went on to say, ‘But I also emphasize to my friends here that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at great risk, and families, who are putting their children at great risk, and so I emphasize that within a legal framework and a humanitarian framework and proper due process, children who do not have proper claims and families with children who do not have proper claims at some point would be subject to repatriation to their home countries.’
Going on said, ‘I say this not because we lack compassion, but because in addition to being a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws, and if you have a disorderly and dangerous process of migration, that not only puts the children themselves at risk, but also calls into question legal immigration process of those who are properly applying and trying to enter our country.’
“Would you agree generally with this assessment?” Cloud asked acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
“I didn’t hear you say who made that assessment, but yes, from what you read, I would agree with that,” McAleenan said.
“It was President Obama five years ago. He went on to say that there’d been a lot of press conferences about this … and … ‘we need action and less talk’ is what he said. And you mentioned all the different meetings that you’ve been in. He also went on to explain how the economic conditions, wanting a better life, did not fit in that narrow definition of asylum in that same press conference. Could you speak briefly to the magnet that is drawing migrants here?” Cloud asked.
“Sure,” McAleenan said, “and just one other comment on that, as the chairman raised in his opening statement, the Central American Minors program ended.
“That was a program that provided a categorical parole for certain minors in Central America, and this administration has proposed in January in a letter from the OMB acting director to Congress on the budget deal and again working with Chairman Graham in the Senate Judiciary side on his legislation – technical assistance – that would allow for a similar approach – applying for asylum, especially for unaccompanied children, in country closer to where they are, because we don’t want them in the hands of smugglers coming to the border,” he said.
McAleenan cited one woman who traveled to the U.S. from Venezuela and said she heard if she brought a child with her, she could stay.
“So on the incentives - ranking member Jordan laid it out - the main incentive has been the fact that families all over the region advertised by smugglers fully internalized. We saw it on CBS News last night. A woman all the way from Venezuela said she knew if she brought her child, she would be released,” McAleenan said.
“It has been the fact that the Flores Settlement does not allow us to do what we were able to do under President Obama and Secretary Johnson, which is detain families together either through an expeditious, fair immigration proceeding. It took about 40 to 50 days on average,” he said.
“That resulted in a clear immigration decision from a judge – either a repatriation if there wasn’t a valid immigration claim or a determination that that family would be allowed to stay. We’re not able to do that anymore. That’s why we see so many families coming. It’s a direct response to that gap in the framework,” McAleenan added.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, the Trump administration’s new asylum rule requires aliens to apply for asylum in at least one country they pass through on the way to the U.S. and be denied before they can apply for asylum in the U.S. If they do not, they will be deemed ineligible for asylum in the U.S.