CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With a partial government shutdown looming, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., says more must be done to secure the United States-Mexico border than funding a border wall.
Manchin, during an appearance last week on MetroNews “Talkline,” said the federal government must do more in regards to addressing individuals seeking asylum in the United States.
“I understand President (Donald) Trump is pushing hard. He wants this money for the wall. There is more to securing the border than the wall,” he said. “We have an asylum problem. People think that they can come into our country. Once they set foot in our country, they’ll be kept here and dispersed. In two years, we never find them again.”
The U.S. Congress has by Dec. 7 to pass a spending bill to fund some government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump made immigration a central issue of his leading up to the midterm elections, repeatedly pointing out a caravan of migrants traveling from Central America to the United States.
Manchin said he supports changing asylum laws.
“If we can work with the president and say, ‘Mr. President, on asylum, don’t you think we can take some of this money and spend it on our embassies in countries where most of these people are seeking asylum are coming from?'”
Manchin said the move would expand the United States’ presence in other countries.
“If we can keep them in a safe place while we vet them to make sure no one exploited them and see if they absolutely do qualify for asylum, it’s a much better, much more humane, much safer (policy.) And I think people are starting to understand that,” he continued.
Manchin said in June he supports increasing border security, including building a wall on the United States’ southern border.
He mentioned on “Talkline” the 2013 bipartisan immigration bill, which included funding for 700 miles of fencing, 20,000 border control agents and other security measures.
“It takes more than just a wall to secure the border. I think the president knows that,” he continued. “If the far-right — if the far, extreme right — weren’t pushing the president so hard, he would accept the 2013 piece of legislation and think it’s the greatest thing.”
Manchin earlier this year cosponsored a bill that was a response to the Trump administration’s policy separating families at the border. The measure would have prohibited federal agents from breaking up families unless in the best interest of children who entered the country.