Sen. Richard Durbin said Thursday he will ask the International Red Cross to intervene at the U.S.-Mexico border to monitor how Homeland Security is treating the illegal immigrants surging into the country.
Mr. Durbin said on MSNBC that the illegal immigrant “detainees” are facing life-threatening conditions with overcrowding forcing children to have to sleep on the floor with mylar blankets for covering.
“We must enforce the law of course but when it comes down to it at the end of the day we cannot engage inhumane conduct which we cannot account for in the future,” he said.
Mr. Durbin did acknowledge a crisis at the border — something many Democrats had resisted earlier this year during a debate over President Trump’s border wall.
But the Illinois Democrat described it as a “humanitarian” problem.
Earlier this week he announced legislation he said would stem the flow of illegal immigrants from Central America who are fueling record levels of illegal immigration. About 110,000 migrants breached the border in April alone — the highest level in more than a decade — and the majority were families or children, which did set an all-time record.
Mr. Durbin and fellow Senate Democrats say the answer lies in nation-building in Central America. They’ve called for increase foreign aid, stiffer penalties on smugglers and an increase in immigration judges here in the U.S. to speed up cases for illegal immigrants.
That won’t begin to dent the problem, say Border Patrol agents, who say while what’s happening in Central America is important, the key factor right now is U.S. laws, which reward illegal immigrants who arrive at the border with children by giving them a speedy release into the community.
Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost took that message directly to Mr. Durbin at a hearing last week, telling him that migrants in Central America have learned they can game the system by exploiting children.
She pointed to a massive increase in the number of adults showing up at the border pretending to be families with juvenile children. The total was 3,500 for the first seven months of the year.
Mr. Durbin rejected her conclusions, saying U.S. policies are the same today as they have been for several years, yet the surge has only happened recently.
“I’ve seen if firsthand, at least, my one visit,” he told her.
Ms. Provost responded that from her expertise, the issue is U.S. policy and the inability to detain and deport families.
“And since then our numbers of family units have skyrocketed once they realized that we could not detain children longer than 20 days,” she said.