Rep. Katie Hill: 'We Have to Figure Out Exactly What We Mean by Asylum'

By Susan Jones | July 3, 2019 | 6:25 AM EDT

Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

( - The rules are clear, as stated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

To qualify for asylum, you must establish that you are a refugee who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality...because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

This means that you must establish that race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion was or will be at least one central reason for your persecution or why you fear persecution.


But some Democrats believe the criteria should be relaxed, as massive numbers of foreigners flood into the United States, mostly for economic and other personal reasons.

"We have to figure out exactly what we mean by asylum," Rep. Katie Hill, the vice chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN's Chris Cuomo Tuesday night.

And this isn't a conversation just for Congress. This is a conversation for us as a nation. I believe that people who are coming here from other countries are doing so out of desperation. And the rules around asylum, the definition, is something that is – that is fundamentally obscure.

I think we really have to decide what is it that we value as Americans. Are we really the promised land that we have been for so long? That's one thing.

The second is that I don't believe that these camps should be operated by CBP or by I.C.E. I believe that we should have resource centers that are taking in refugees, migrants, that are operated by non-profits, that are operated by community-based organizations that know how to do this, that are set up and established to do this, that are going to treat people with dignity and that frankly have the resources and capability to do so in a way that is consistent with our values.

And frankly this isn't a law enforcement function. This is something that, you know, shelters, the Red Cross has been dealing with in situations of crisis for so long. And it's something they should be able to handle with our help.

Hill said she hopes Congress takes up a discussion of asylum "the second we get back from our recess."

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