(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Ben Cardin (D-N.J.) was among a group of Democrats who visited the Southwest border on Friday, and he said he was "disappointed" with what he saw.
"These are families that are very desperate," Cardin told "Sunday Morning Futures" with Maria Bartiromo.
They are escaping danger in their host countries.
In many cases, they were young children whose parents are concerned of their children's safety. So, what we saw were families that are desperate, that are trying to find a better life for themselves. And they are running against an administration who has changed the rules on asylum.
Asylum is a process that the United States has been a leader on, that people that are in genuine fear of their lives should find a welcome mat for safety. Instead, the president has held these individuals under circumstances that shouldn't exist.
So, we were disappointed. And we saw people who just want to get on with their lives. It takes less than a day for the immigration people to process, from the point of view to make sure they are who they say they are, that they haven't violated laws.
They should be released at that point, pending their asylum hearings. And that is not happening.
Bartiromo recently visited the "completely busted, overwhelmed" border, as she described it to Cardin. She noted that there will be about a million apprehensions this year alone, many of them families from Central American who are seeking asylum, not because they have grounds to do so, but because our laws allow people to make the asylum claim anyway.
"So what do you want to do in terms of slowing the flow of people coming here?" Bartiromo asked Cardin. "Can the Congress change the asylum laws, the Flores agreement, that is actually encouraging all these people, whether it is families or individuals, coming to this border?"
"I think there are things Democrats and Republicans can agree to do that could ease the circumstances on our border," Cardin replied.
First, we need to double down on helping the Central American countries with the problems in their own country. We need to deal with their safety for their citizens, their economic future.
We started that process. The Trump administration has cut back. There is bipartisan support for us to improve America's participation in the economies of those countries.
Secondly, we need to start an immigration policy in the Central American countries itself, so that individuals know whether they qualify for asylum in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, rather than making the dangerous trek to our southern border.
There are two things that we could do that could ease the circumstances pretty dramatically. And I can assure you there is bipartisan support to do that.
Why isn't it getting done? Bartiromo wondered.
Cardin blamed the Trump administration for cutting off aid to Central American countries because of their failure to improve living conditions, something that would slow the exodus. Crime and corruption are rampant in those countries.
"Clearly, we want the funds to go into Central America," Cardin said. "We want to stop the metering process on our border, which is preventing people from seeking safety that are at our southern border. Right now, they are in a Mexican town that is controlled by gangs and drug dealers. And they are at great risk. So we want to protect that population.
"We want people that have been cleared from the point of view of not committing any crimes and are seeking asylum to be released, so they do not have to stay in detention longer than one or two days.
"That is what we would like to see at this stage. And, yes, we do want to work together to improve our immigration laws. We do need bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform."
To Democrats, bipartisan immigration reform must include a pathway to citizenship for people who came here illegally.
To President Donald Trump, immigration reform means ending the immigration loopholes that draw people to this country with the hope that they can slip in under guise of asylum, skip their immigration hearings, and stay here forever.
President Trump tweeted over the weekend:
Senator Chuck Schumer has finally gone to the Southern Border with some Democrat Senators. This is a GREAT thing! Nearby, he missed a large group of Illegal Immigrants trying to enter the USA illegally. They wildly rushed Border Patrol. Some Agents were badly injured....
...Based on the comments made by Senator Schumer, he must have seen how dangerous & bad for our Country the Border is. It is not a “manufactured crisis,” as the Fake News Media & their Democrat partners tried to portray. He said he wants to meet. I will set up a meeting ASAP!