ICE has limited resources and should be concentrating its efforts on criminals, not people like those in Mississippi arrested while working to take care of their families, Rep. Katie Hill, who traveled with a bipartisan delegation last week to the three Central American countries at the heart of the immigration crisis at the U.S. border, said Monday.
"This is the fundamental issue with immigration and how we need to be talking about it and looking at it in our country," the California Democrat told CNN's "New Day." "Asylum under the traditional definition doesn't necessarily include people coming here for economic reasons, but I think one of the biggest things we need to do is expand legal immigration so people can do that legally.
The lawmaker also said that during her travels, she saw the ripple effects of the Trump administration's removal of financial assistance to Central America.
"There were some amazing programs that helped to keep people in country that have been cut and drastically reduced," said Hill. "What we heard over and over again from everyone from the FBI to intelligence agencies on the ground to even Department of Defense was saying we have to keep this funding going."
It is a misconception to think the money is going to corrupt governments, as it's not, Hill added.
"It's going to our own agencies to help intercept drugs, to prevent gang violence, to target these really critical programs that can make an impact and are making an impact."
Restoring the funding would "make an impact right away," said Hill.
She also noted that Central Americans are fleeing their countries because of "massive gang violence," including with children who are threatened while being recruited.
"When you have people fleeing, people taking their kids up to the United States trying to get in, it's because they don't want their 8-year-old kid to get recruited to a gang or their daughter to be raped," said Hill.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.