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Flake: It’s not too late to ‘stem the tide’ of immigration

LISTEN: Arizona Senator Jeff Flake

PHOENIX — The debate over the humanitarian crisis occurring at the border may be reaching a tipping point.

“We’ve already received about 57,000 across our border,” Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Rob & Karie on Tuesday. “Projections are it’ll be 90,000 before the year is out and 140,000 the next year, and we cannot do that, obviously.”

Flake is one of many in the U.S. Congress who believes the “incentive” for the children and adults crossing our border has now become too great.

He also believes it’s not too late to change that.

“There are some kids who are being sent back, it’s just a very, very, very small percentage right now,” he explained. “Until these plane loads of kids and parents come back and people realize, ‘I just paid up to $5,000, $7,000 to a smuggler to take this child north and then now they’re right back,’ that’s what will stem the tide, and I don’t think anything else we can do will do that.”

Part of reducing the incentive involves recent legislation proposals that would treat immigrants from Central America the same as those who cross the border from Mexico or Canada.

“[It] would allow the president to more quickly expedite the repatriation of these children to their home country,” Flake said.

Flake acknowledged that millions, if not billions, will be have to be spent on the current situation regardless, but he believes that in the end, money will eventually be saved if the incentive is curbed.

“I would rather be spending that money in a way we can help these countries receive these children back and in a way that will not incentivize others to make the journey,” he said.

The plight and dangers facing the migrant children has added to the hot button nature of the situation, but Flake explained that implementing new legislature would not quash legitimate asylum claims.

“What we’re doing is increasing funding for the consulates and the embassies in these countries for legitimate asylum claims,” he said. “Those ought to be occurring in those countries instead of forcing these children north and doing it here. We can and should increase the number of those who are allowed in with legitimate asylum cases, but not deal with that situation on our border.”

When it comes to the issue of asylum, Flake said even the president has acknowledged there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

“The president has acknowledged that most of those who are claiming asylum are doing so improperly. He acknowledges that we will be deporting…the majority of those back,” he stated. “I would submit that if the president acknowledges that most of these children will not stay, then it wouldn’t be in those children’s interest to place them with family or relatives, if we’re simply going to take them away from their family and relatives months down the road or years down the road.”