About 100,000 people per day have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum in the last two months, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, and four in five do not meet the criteria to enter the country.
"The way the system works right now, the threshold under the law is so low that about 80 percent pass that initial interview," Nielsen told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday.
"But only 20 percent are granted asylum by a judge," she explained, "which tells us that 80 percent of that is either just a flat-out fraud or somebody who thinks they can come here because they want a job here.
"That's not asylum.
"Or, 'I want to reunify with my family.' That's not asylum," Nielsen added. "'I just want to come to the United States' — not asylum.
"We have legal ways to do that, but it's not through asylum," she said.
Nielsen attributed the increase in immigrants crossing the south Texas border to many taking advantage of "loopholes" in the system.
"They know if they cross between the ports of entry nothing will happen," she said. "If they bring kids, they will be released.
"The kids will be released in 20 days under a court case.
"If they are criminal, they will serve a little bit of time and under a different court case we have to release them in six months back to the communities, the criminals. If they’re other than Mexican we can put them in expedited removal if they are children involved.
"They know better than Congress," Nielsen told Ingraham. "They know better than most of us. The smugglers, they know the loopholes. They are exploiting them."
Nielsen also thanked Defense Secretary James Mattis for approving about 1,600 National Guard troops for the border, adding that it should climb to 2,200 after a pending request is granted.
"Originally, we were focused on border patrol support — but now, we've extended it.
"So, we will support the folks at the ports of entry and who are in Intel and analysis," Nielsen said. "It's a huge force multiplier."
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