Gov. Doug Ducey is blaming the crisis on the border on federal laws he says are providing incentives for people to seek asylum.
The governor said today that people who try to get across the border often are “coached by individuals to say things that allow them to come in the country.” Those laws, Ducey said, need to be changed.
“The system is at a breaking point,” he said after a visit to a Laveen-area elementary school. “That’s why there’s a crisis, that’s why you see the pictures” of crowds of people at the border.
The governor’s comments come on the heels of the apparently forced resignation of Kristjen Nielsen as head of the Department of Homeland Security. That move follows the decision by President Trump to withdraw the nomination of Ronald D. Vitiello to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying his administration is “going in a tougher direction” in dealing with illegal immigration and specifically the flood of people presenting themselves as the border seeking asylum.
Ducey was philosophical about the changes in Washington, including Nielsen who was sworn in in December 2017.
“All of the Cabinet secretaries serve at the pleasure of the president,” he said, calling her “a model public servant.” And Ducey said he has met Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, who will become acting secretary.
“I’m sure I’ll get to know him throughout this process,” the governor said.
Underlying all that, said Ducey, is the situation at the border.
“I’ve said that I don’t want to see families separated,” Ducey said. “But I also want to see Congress act.”
And that goes to the question of what he said are shortfalls.
“We actually have laws that I believe right now are incenting the crisis that’s happening on the border,” Ducey said. “We should be more direct as to what the situation is.”
The governor said the country has an opportunity to “reform” the immigration system. And one key to that is that people understand the process if they want admission to the United States.
“Right now they try to get across the border or oftentimes are coached by individuals to say things that allow them to come inside the country,” he said.
So does that mean requiring asylum seekers to remain in their home country?
“That wouldn’t be my solution,” the governor responded, saying there are others, though he provided no specifics.
“People that are in need of asylum and go through the process are finding the protection of it that is intended,” Ducey said. “But others are using the law to their advantage, and not in good faith.”
Ducey said there also needs to be a recognition that not everyone gathered at the border is seeking asylum.
“We also have human trafficking and drug cartels,” the governor said. “Separating out the good actors from the bad actors is the very difficult duty of ICE and the Customs and Border Patrol.”