(CNSNews.com) - "Most asylum-seekers pose no threat or danger to the United States," Robert "Beto" O'Rourke told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
He was explaining why he would release asylum-seekers into U.S. communities, after assigning government employees to monitor their cases.
"We know from past history that when we connect them with case managers in a community, they have a 99-percent chance of meeting their court dates and their appointments with ICE. In other words, we do a better job helping them to follow our laws when they have case managers in the community, and it costs us a tenth of what we pay to keep them in detention and in custody," O'Rourke said.
The Democrat presidential candidate said he does not use the phrase "catch and release."
I'd call it helping those who are seeking asylum in this country to follow our laws, to make sure that they show up to their court dates, their appointments with ICE, all our legal process.
And if at the end of that, they're able to stay in this country, we want to make sure they're successful. If, at the end of that process, they must return to their country of origin, I want to make sure that they follow our laws and go back to the country from which they -- they left in the first place.
So there's a far more cost-effective, far more humane way to do this.
I think we've got to ask ourselves, during an administration that has caged children, that has deported their moms back to the very countries from which they've fled, that have continued this separation that is visiting a cruelty and a torture on these families, that has lost the lives of six children within our custody, whether or not we can do better and live our values, and whether or not there will be a reckoning and accountability for this.
Host Margaret Brennan noted that there are 16,000 people in custody right now. "Are you saying...that they would not be detained in an O'Rourke administration?" she asked.
"Not necessarily in every case," O'Rourke responded.
"But I think the vast majority of families and children who are fleeing the deadliest countries on the face of the planet, who are seeking asylum in this country, trying to follow our asylum laws, being prevented in some cases from being able to do that by a president who posts CBP officers at the ports of entry, forcing these families to try to cross in between the ports, where they turn themselves in. They don't try to flee arrest, they don't try to evade detection, those families pose no threats or risk to this country."
O'Rourke said families that pose no threat "should be released with a case manager who ensures that they follow our laws, that they attend their court hearings, that they meet their appointments with an ICE officer."
Appearing later on the same cable program, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said he's very concerned about overcrowding in Border Control detention centers.
"We are allowing this to happen. It is our broken laws that are sustaining this wicked business model.
"We're almost eight months into this fiscal year, and we've got -- we're up to about 400,000 in total. And if it continues at this pace, in one year, we'll have about 800,000 unaccompanied children and people crossing the border illegally as a family unit -- 800,000.
So this is overwhelming our system, and we have to stop it. We have to change our laws to stop rewarding and incentivizing people to cross our border illegally."
Johnson also dismissed O'Rourke's idea of assigning case managers to asylum-seekers.
"You know, I heard Beto O'Rourke saying, all we have to do is assign a case officer to every one of these families. Well, that would be about 400,000 case officers or people that can handle 400,000 families this year alone. We don't have that kind of personnel. So the goal of our policy should be to reduce that flow and in the House they're just talking about impeachment investigations. It's very unfortunate."