Ohio's U.S. senators plan to visit the U.S.-Mexico border this weekend to observe firsthand the conditions at U.S. Customs And Border Protection detention facilities.
Last week, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) called for the federal government to investigate contractors running the facilities where migrant families are being detained. A recent report from the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General found "dangerous overcrowding" at detention facilities, with migrants being kept without proper food or hygiene for extended periods of time.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) says he hopes a bipartisan group of legislators can come up with ways to alleviate the crisis at the border, where thousands of migrants have been seeking sanctuary.
“Specifically, I’ve been promoting this idea for the past month of having people apply for asylum, which would be refugee status, which is the same criteria, which is a credible fair criteria, doing so either from their home countries or a third country, specifically from Mexico," Portman said in a conference call Tuesday.
President Trump's "Remain In Mexico" program has already sent thousands of asylum applicants to Mexico while they wait for their day in immigration court. Portman says this would put migrants at lesser risk.
“To discourage people from taking that long and dangerous trip up here to our border and providing some relief to the crisis on the border but still giving people a chance to come to the United States or go to a third country,” Portman says.
Portman says he wants the Trump administration to increase the cap on refugees. It's currently set at 30,000 people—a record low since the program's creation.
“The UN actually has several processing centers in Central America and Mexico already," Portman says. "There would have to be some changes, some of which have to be legislative but I think most could be done administratively."