WASHINGTON — Andrew Yang, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said there is a “migrant crisis” on the U.S.-Mexico border that needs to be addressed.
In February, President Trump declared a national emergency as a way to construct additional physical barriers on the southern border. Democrats overwhelmingly voted to block Trump’s border declaration. Some Republicans joined the Democrats in voting for legislation that would reverse the national emergency. Trump ultimately vetoed the bill.
Yang has said he supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants but his immigration reform plan would “reflect the fact that these individuals tried to circumvent our legal immigration system.” During a CNN town hall on Sunday evening, Yang was asked to elaborate on his statement.
“We have well over 12 million undocumented immigrants here in this country and to me, the most logical and humane path forward is to create a pathway to citizenship for people who are here and undocumented, particularly for the DREAMers who’ve really known no other home but the United States of America,” Yang said.
“And I say to people around the country, I’m the son of immigrants. I believe that immigrants make our country stronger and more dynamic and so we should try and create a pathway forward to help integrate, really, again, 12 million is a conservative estimate. There are many, many people who are here and undocumented that we should integrate into our formal economy and to society, if we can,” he added.
Yang was also asked how he would deter illegal immigration as president.
“Well, so right now we have a migrant crisis on the southern border and it’s, in part, because the composition of the people who are showing up at the border is changing, where now it’s people who are applying for asylum, and unfortunately we don’t have the resources to process them in any kind of effective punctual or effective way and so the waiting period is literally over a year in some cases,” Yang said.
“So the basics are that we need to put more resources to work on our southern border. We need more facilities, caseworkers, asylum judges. Right now our Border Patrol is short thousands of people that they’ve been trying to hire for months because it’s very hard for them to attract and retain people to very remote parts of this country,” he added.
Trump has proposed hiring 5,000 new border agents but the Border Patrol has struggled to maintain its existing workforce and many vacancies reportedly remain unfilled.