Acting DHS chief calls for detention of families through hearing process

Acting DHS chief calls for detention of families through hearing process
© Aaron Schwartz

Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Sunday that Congress should amend asylum law to allow for the detention of migrant families while their claims are processed rather than releasing them after 20 days in custody.

Discussing the ongoing influx of migrants at the southern border, McAleenan told “Fox News Sunday” that Congress must make three key changes to current asylum laws for officials to address immigration effectively.

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The first, he said, should be to change current law to allow the federal government to detain migrant families while they await their immigration hearings, rather than releasing them into the U.S. after 20 days.

Second, he said, asylum law should better empower officials to repatriate unaccompanied children and offer them a safe away to apply for asylum from their home countries.

Third, McAleenan said, Congress should better align the asylum system’s “credible fear” standard so that the number of migrants initially allowed in under the standard better matches the number allowed to stay under it.

“Eighty-nine percent of people get that while only 10 percent get asylum at the end of the court proceedings,” McAleenan said, “so we want an alignment with what might actually be a successful claim.”

McAleenan, who was named to replace then-Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House MORE after her resignation, warned the system was “bursting at the seams” even compared to prior surges in 2014 and 2016, and said the Department of Health and Human Services had seen “no action” on requests for additional funding to handle overcrowding at detention facilities since requesting it five and a half weeks ago.

McAleenan also expressed optimism about a deal reached between President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE and Mexican officials to avert proposed tariffs on Mexican goods and address the surge of migrants.

“This is the first time we’ve heard anything like this kind of law enforcement being deployed in Mexico to address migrations, not just at the southern border but also in transportation routes to the northern border and coordinated patrols in key areas around our southwest border,” he said.