McSally, Sinema think asylum process must be changed to slow immigration

Apr 18, 2019, 4:30 PM | Updated: 6:07 pm

(AP Photos)...

(AP Photos)

(AP Photos)

PHOENIX — Both U.S. senators from Arizona agreed Thursday that the process of claiming asylum needs to be changed to address the crisis at the border.

Republican Sen. Martha McSally told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos that Congress needs to change the way asylum claims are processed.

“So many people are taking advantage of the low threshold in that initial interview. They know all they have to say is ‘I have a credible fear,’ and they’re put now into the asylum process, they’re then released into the interior of the United States,” she said.

“Raise the threshold in that initial interview. … Let’s get some judges down to the border, process them in a faster time frame, so that we don’t have all these false asylum claims that are really allowing people to disappear.”

In a separate interview, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema told Mac & Gaydos that she met with an agent during her recent tour of the border who said asylum claims need to be dealt with much more quickly.

“His suggestion was to get specialized asylum officers at the ports of entry and bring down hundreds of more immigration judges to quickly process these cases so that individuals who do not qualify for asylum can be put on planes and sent back to their home countries,” she said.

She said if there aren’t enough judges, some attorneys can be given temporary judicial status, which could help with the backlog.

Both senators said current laws are being exploited by human smugglers, who see this as a path to gaining people entrance into the country.

“People in these countries are being told that they can come to the U.S. and apply for asylum and it’s a way to get into the country,” Sinema said.

“I believe if we were able to process these cases quickly … put people on planes, send them back to their home country, it would send a clear message to the criminal syndicates who are running these operations that this is not an effective way to get people into the United States of America.”

McSally said no matter how hard it is for Congress to come to an agreement, they must keep working.

“What I’m taking about with loophole laws I think would be a consensus issue with Republicans, and I think Democrats who are looking at this reasonably would realize they need to vote on this,” she said.

“So we could close those loopholes tomorrow with emergency legislation … and it would change the pull factor.”

Sinema said she doubts if lawmakers will be able to come to a solution.

“Finding a legislative solution where you have to get Congress to pass a law is going to be difficult given the brokenness of this Congress,” she said.

But both senators agreed that the situation at hand is urgent and needs to be acted on as soon as possible.

“I think most Americans would agree we are facing a crisis,” Sinema said.

“And while Arizona is seeing less of an influx of these migrants … than California and Texas, it’s still overwhelming our system and overwhelming our local communities.”

McSally also said she believes most Americans view the situation as a “crisis.”

“You don’t cut the line. We have a very robust, legal immigration system, but we’ve got to stop this nonsense from happening,” she said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Dan + Shay performing on stage....

Country singers Dan + Shay adds Phoenix stop in September on upcoming tour

Dan + Shay will perform at Phoenix's Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre on Sept. 5 for their "2024 The Heartbreak On The Map Tour."

20 minutes ago

Split-panel image with Arizona Public Service President Ted Geisler being interviewed in the KTAR N...

Kevin Stone

APS, Arizona’s largest electric utility, wants to raise residential rates by about 11%

APS, Arizona’s largest electric utility company, is seeking a rate hike that would increase residential bills by an average of 11%.

1 hour ago

People can be seen riding the escalators and standing in lines inside Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Har...

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport gets $36 million federal grant for infrastructure upgrades

The infrastructure at Arizona’s largest airport is getting an upgrade thanks to a $36 million federal grant.

2 hours ago

photo of Raad Almansoori...

Suspect in Arizona stabbings linked to murder of woman in New York

A man suspected in two recent Valley stabbings has been linked to the murder of a woman in a New York City hotel room in early February.

3 hours ago


KTAR Video

Video: How does APS justify raising rates amid inflation?

Ted Geisler, president of Arizona Public Service (APS), joined Jim Sharpe on Arizona’s Morning News to discuss how the company decided on an 11% increase on customers amid current inflation.

4 hours ago


KTAR Video

Video: How APS plans to keep service going, workers prepare for future winter storms

Ted Geisler, president of Arizona Public Service (APS), joined Jim Sharpe on Arizona’s Morning News to discuss how the company decided on an 11% increase on customers amid current inflation, as well as discussed how workers have used this past winter storm to prepare for future weather impacts. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

McSally, Sinema think asylum process must be changed to slow immigration