Sen. Bob Menendez took aim at President Biden over reports that the administration was considering a revival of family detention for illegal migrants at the border.
“If the administration does go down this path, I am afraid that the president will become the Asylum Denier-in-Chief,” Menendez, D-NJ, said during an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The New Jersey senator’s comments come after reports surfaced that the Biden administration was mulling whether to allow border authorities to detain migrant families illegally crossing the southern border, reviving a policy made controversial under the administrations of former Presidents Obama and Trump.
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According to a report from Reuters last week, the administration is weighing several options to cut down on the number of immigrants attempting to illegally gain entry to the U.S. That includes reviving a policy that allows authorities to arrest migrant families in the country who have been ordered deported.
“It’s all on the table,” one U.S. official told Reuters.
When reached for comment by Fox News Digital Sunday, a White House spokesperson pointed to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s comments last week, when she said the president would “use the tools that he has before him to make sure that we deal with an immigration system or we build an immigration system that’s, again, safe, orderly and humane.
“We’ve been very clear on how we’re looking — how the president wants to move forward,” Jean-Pierre said. “And he’s been clear from the start, from the beginning of his administration: by putting forth a comprehensive immigration reform. And his approach has been making sure that we expand legal pathways for asylum seekers, limiting illegal immigration, addressing root causes, and also increasing border security.”
However, Menendez argued a revival of family detention would be a step in the wrong direction.
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“The best part of the administration’s immigration policy over the first two years is that they ended family detention, which proved to be a failure under both the Obama and Trump administrations as a way to deter individuals from coming,” Menendez said.
Instead, Menendez called for a “comprehensive plan to deal with the border” that would allow officers to more efficiently process “legitimate” claims for asylum, noting that many of those arriving at the U.S. border are fleeing from dictatorial countries.
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“The three biggest countries… that are coming to the border now, are Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, they are dictatorships, people fleeing those dictatorships,” Menendez said.
“When the administration opened up a legal pathway for those fleeing, it dramatically saw the reduction,” he said. “It’s just an example of what you can do in a way that both is good for the border and preserves our nation as a nation that preserves asylum.”