Sen. Menendez: Biden’s policies risk making him ‘asylum-denier-in-chief’

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Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) speaks during a news conference about DACA outside the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 16, 2022 in Washington, D.C. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

If President Joe Biden follows through with plans his administration is weighing to restart family detention for migrants, he risks becoming “the asylum denier in chief,” Sen. Bob Menendez said Sunday.

“The best part of the administration’s immigration policy over the first two years is that they ended family detention,” Menendez (D-N.J.) said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” calling the policy a “failure.”

“When the administration opened up a legal pathway to those fleeing, it dramatically saw a reduction in assistance — an example of what you can do in a way that is both good for the border and preserves our nation as a nation that preserves asylum,” Menendez said. “But if not, if the administration does go down this path, I am afraid the president will become the ‘asylum denier in chief.’”

The comments come after reports that the Biden administration is considering reinstating the policy, which would require families who attempt to cross the U.S. border illegally to be detained as their cases work their way through immigration court.

This would only exacerbate the situation at the southern border, which Menendez noted is already tense, particularly after four Americans were kidnapped — two of whom died — shortly after crossing the border into Mexico.

“The reality is along the border communities, it is the cartels that run the border communities, not the government of Mexico,” Menendez said, adding that he is concerned the U.S. is “headed in the wrong direction in Mexico.”

“We have to engage the Mexicans in a way that says, ‘You’ve got to do a lot more in your security.’ We can help them, you know. We have intelligence. We have other information we can share. But we need them to enforce in their own country,” Menendez said.

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