A group of nine U.S. senators (three of them Democrats) have proposed to President Trump that he implement a new policy they call “Operation Safe Return,” which would expedite the return of asylum-seeking families quickly determined not to qualify for asylum in the U.S.
In a letter to the president dated July 17, the senators outlined the following procedure:
- Within three days of a family’s entry into the U.S., Border Patrol agents would conduct an interview. Those who do not express fear would be placed in expedited removal proceedings. Those who do express fear of persecution would be provided a list of pro bono attorneys.
- Within four days, the family would be taken together to an ICE family detention facility and be screened for medical conditions.
- Within nine days of entry, asylum officers would conduct a credible fear interview.
- Within one day following that interview, the results would be relayed to the relevant federal agencies.
- Within two weeks, family units who have passed the interview would be allowed to continue to seek asylum through the existing process. Those who have failed, with the concurrence of an immigration judge, would be removed to their home countries.
The following Republican senators signed the letter to the President: Ron Johnson (R-WI), Michael B. Enzi (R-WY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Rob Portman (R-OH), James Lankford (R-OK), and John Barrosso (R-WY), The Democrat signers were Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
The breaking of the usually solid Democrat ranks involving immigration issues is something of a rarity. Senator Sinema explained in an interview, “This pilot program would apply to families who aren’t claiming ‘credible fear,’ which of course is the first threshold in seeking asylum. If someone says ‘I left my country because I can’t make a living,’ (or) ‘it’s hard to take care of my family’ — that’s what we call an economic migrant.”
It sounds good, but while the proposal has garnered the expected opposition from the left, there are some on the right who are skeptical as well. Rick Oltman of U.S. Inc., an immigration control organization, posted a column on that group’s website on July 22, 2019, entitled, “The Dubious ‘Operation Safe Return.‘” After considering and then rejecting the possibility that the proposal is mere electioneering (only Jones, Enzi, and Cornyn are up for re-election next time), Oltman writes:
“At first glance, the proposal does sound like it is trying to accelerate the asylum determination process. It also sounds complicated and would require enormous manpower to adjudicate. Is it designed to fail? One would be justified in being highly skeptical of the proposal by just looking at the track record of those pushing it. Stay tuned. Something’s up.”
For more, see Fox News.