(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), now running for the Democrat presidential nomination, says the growing wave of asylum-seekers and illegal aliens flooding into the United States "don't need to be incarcerated."
"I wouldn't keep them in detention at all," Gillibrand told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
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. We need real immigration judges, which we don't have, that are appointed for life and outside the political process.
I think what President Trump's done on immigration is divisive and hurtful and harmful to our national security.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told "Face the Nation" that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had been looking at the possibility of sending asylum-seekers to Detroit, Miami, and Buffalo to await resolution of their immigration cases, but they've decided against it.
Instead, the overflow will be sent to the San Diego Border Patrol sector, which is larger and better equipped to handle the huge numbers of migrants who continue flooding into the country.
Gillibrand said New York would welcome the migrant families: "We would be delighted to take refugee families into cities like Buffalo and Syracuse and Rochester and Albany," she said.
"As president of the United States, I wouldn't use the detention system at all," Gillibrand said. "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 our asylum."
Gillibrand also said she would assign a lawyer to anyone seeking asylum: "They can -- 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."
In a separate interview, McAleenan told "Face the Nation," "We're seeing 4,000 families a day and single adults, unaccompanied children, crossing unlawfully between ports of entry. That means CBP right now in Border Patrol stations and at ports of entry has about 16,000 people in custody. The system is full.
"We've been very clear about that. So what we're trying to do is plan to be able to manage that capacity safely, to bring people where we can process them efficiently. As you noted, flights have gone on to San Diego, where there is a high-capacity Border Patrol sector. And, as a planning factor, we're looking at all options for being able to detain people."
Contrary to Gillibrand's statement, McAleenan said communities across the nation are "not ready to receive this flood of immigration."
"We need to have a system that works at the border, where we're able to prevent people from crossing unlawfully and return them effectively. And that's why we've asked Congress for help."
He said DHS is working with the Defense Department to increase housing capacity for illegal aliens and asylum-seekers. "We're also working with Mexico to make sure that people can wait in Mexico for their hearings as well," he said.