Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., told Fox News on Wednesday that migrants are not crossing into the U.S. illegally, but instead are sitting at the border and seeking asylum, despite record numbers of illegal entries into the country being reported along the southern border.
Johnson was asked about the immigration crisis while passing through the halls of the Capitol building, particularly about the nearly 10,000 migrants who cross the border into the U.S. illegally each day.
“Well, they’re not crossing into the U.S. illegally,” Johnson responded when asked at what point the crossings would become an invasion. “They’re sitting at the border seeking asylum.”
People seeking asylum, though, must prove they suffered persecution, or fear future persecution in their country of origin, according to the American Immigration Council’s website.
Many of the migrants coming to the U.S. are seeking economic opportunity, which is not a basis of asylum.
Johnson said that is why the U.S. needs more pathways to legal entry through comprehensive immigration reform, adding asylum is the only method available to people seeking lawful into the U.S.
He then blamed Republicans, saying they do not want comprehensive immigration reform, yet set up a situation where those seeking economic opportunity in the U.S. are limited in terms of being able to do so legally.
“Ironically, the country needs the labor of many who seek entry into the county,” Johnson said. “I mean, it would enhance our economy. And so, instead of playing politics, what we need to do is, honestly, come to the table. Address the need for comprehensive reform and then we could eliminate the hordes of people who are approaching our border with no way to lawfully enter.”
Johnson was also asked if he was concerned that many people are paying cartels thousands of dollars to be smuggled into the U.S. illegally, not through a port of entry, because it is faster.
“Talk with the right people. Your information, your questions…you know, your questions are kind of off base,” he said.
In 2010, Johnson voiced fears that Guam would tip over and capsize if too many people resided on the island.
Customs and Border Protection sources told Fox News on Monday that there were approximately 11,000 migrant encounters at the southern border, exceeding the record highs seen in the days before the Title 42 public health order ended in May and making it the single highest day in recent memory.
In Eagles Pass, Texas, alone, there were more than 4,000 encounters over the weekend.
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