Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. Senator is calling for immigration reform measures after a recent trip to the country’s southern border.
Democrat Bob Casey told WITF’s Smart Talk his recent tour of migrant processing and detention centers around McAllen, Texas was eye-opening and disturbing.
“One was the McAllen Border Patrol station where you had–in the indoor part of it–where you had these men crowded into these very small rooms, the size of maybe your living room,” Casey said.
He also saw children and families crowded into cells at holding facilities.
Casey noted conditions appear to have improved for some since the recent passage of a $4.5 billion package by Congress and the release of an Inspector General’s report critical of the detention system. He toured a new, fortified tent where families going through the intake process appeared to have enough room and basic necessities.
Casey has joined his Democratic colleagues in introducing a measure creating health and safety standards for migrant children who are taken into custody.
He said President Donald Trump should be working with experts toward a bipartisan fix for the asylum system, instead of — what he calls — “demonizing” immigrants and Democrats.
“But he doesn’t want to do that,” Casey said. “So, his administration has the pressure from him to keep people out, almost no matter what.”
Last week, the Trump Administration implemented a rule that migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. must first apply for protection in a country they pass through on their way to the southern border.
Casey is also calling for passage of an updated version of a 2013 immigration reform bill that would have created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and provided for border security. At the time, it cleared the Senate, but failed to make it out of the Republican-controlled House.