Only about 3 or 4 percent of the unaccompanied minors who have entered the country in the last two-and-a-half years have been returned to their home countries, Sen. Jeff Sessions charged on Tuesday.
“It cannot be that every young person that appears from Central America is entitled to asylum or entry into the united states, contrary to our laws,” Sessions said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. “It just cannot be. Does anybody in this government not understand that?”
Immigration officials testified that the border crisis could be mitigated if more people were sent home. “I don’t disagree with that,” Thomas Homan, a senior official at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told Sessions. “I think if you have a consequence of deterrence to illegal activity, the illegal activity will slow down.”
The Alabama Republican noted that 4,680 of the 127,000 minors who have arrived in the last two-and-a-half years have been returned. Senate Democrats argued that increasing the number of returns would be inhumane, although GOP lawmakers pointed to cases of unaccompanied children being released to criminals to argue that President Obama’s policies are creating another kind of humanitarian crisis.