“The problem right now is that we are now seeing desperate people fleeing violence and misery in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. With little children walking 1,000 miles,” the 2020 presidential hopeful explained during Fox News’ town hall Monday night, claiming they’re not “trying to sneak in” but rather simply seeking asylum in the U.S.
In order to accommodate an “overflowing” immigration system, Sanders said we need “sensible immigration reform.” According to the Vermont senator, that includes recruiting hundreds of judges to help deal with these issues.
“You need to have many, many more judges to expedite the process,” said Sanders, adding that he would look into tweaking asylum laws though he didn’t elaborate.
“We don’t need to demonize immigrants,” Sanders added, as the audience clapped in support.
An influx of asylum requests from immigrants facing deportation has overwhelmed U.S. courts in recent months and denial of the requests does little to keep illegal immigrants out, according to federal statistics.
Migrants are entitled under both U.S. and international law to apply for asylum. But there already is a bottleneck of would-be asylum seekers waiting at some U.S. border crossings to make their claims, some waiting as long as five weeks. For others, the process could even take years.
“The reality is that most people in the caravan will not be found qualified for asylum, and many of them know it. Others are encouraged to, but likely their claims will not pass muster, especially under new guidance from Jeff Sessions, to get back to a stricter adherence to the law,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies — a Washington, D.C.- based research institution, previously told Fox News.
As U.S. officials work on assisting migrants, Sanders suggested building proper facilities on the border for them to stay in for the time being.
“What we need is comprehensive immigration reform,” Sanders said.
“We need to provide legal status to those people … We need the proper legal process at the border so that these issues can be adjudicated to determine whether or not people should be entitled to asylum,” he continued, adding that we need border security.
However, Sanders said he believes there are more “cost effective” ways to do that than building a wall, as Trump has proposed.