From the November 5 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): Tell me, what happens when these caravans hit our border?
JOHN SANDWEG (FORMER ACTING ICE DIRECTOR): Well, what we've been seeing, generally, is that caravans themselves have been actually walking up to our ports of entry. So, rather than sneaking across the border, the caravans actually walk up to the ports of entry, get there, and say, “I want asylum in the United States.”
VARNEY: And then what do we do?
SANDWEG: Well, the good news is this: They're all screened, they go through biometric and biographic background checks. So we're able to find out whether there's any bad information about them historically, including information we get from Central America. Once there -- this is where problems come in -- they go through the court system where they get to present their claims for asylum. The problem is, we've never hired enough judges, so the process takes way too long, in some cases three to five years. Those who are with family members, you know, as a result of some court rulings, generally are going to be released pending those court hearings.
Now, ultimately, only about 10 percent of these people are going to actually get asylum in the United States, most of these people will be deported. The problem is, it just takes so long for us to get there.
VARNEY: So, we're looking at the prospect of housing tens of thousands of people on the border, maybe in tent cities, for a very long period of time. Is that what we're looking at?
SANDWEG: Well, right now, generally, these people are released. They can be given an ankle bracelet. And the good news is, Stuart, 90 --
VARNEY: Well, the president -- but the president says no, we're not going to catch and release. We're not going to do that.
SANDWEG: Well, right now, I know the president is saying that, but the reality is this: When you have 12,000 -- I mean, last month we have 16,000 Central Americans family members. ICE's capacity to detain families is only limited to about 3,000 beds nationwide. So just do the math. We know that large numbers are being released. The good news is the --
VARNEY: Well, then, John, I've got to say, that sounds to me like an invasion. I know you don't like the use of the word, I understand that, but what else do you describe it as? You got tens of thousands of people, they walk in, and they stay for a very long time, and we put them up. That's an invasion.
SANDWEG: Yeah, you know, Stuart, listen, I understand the frustration people have. Look, this is a humanitarian crisis. I mean, the majority of these people have no -- they pose no threat. The overwhelming majority pose no threat.
VARNEY: No it's not, it's a border crisis. Come on, you can't laugh like that. We're being swamped, and it's deliberate.
SANDWEG: I've dealt with security crises, and there are some bad people crossing that border. Generally, this population are families fleeing -- desperately fleeing poverty and violence. They're not entitled to asylum, the overwhelming majority. The good news is, they won't get it. The only real problem here is how slow we are in handling these cases. And I think the frustration is real. I understand people's frustration, they say, “Hey, there's a backdoor to the United States, these people are cheating.” I get it, it drives me nuts too.
Look, the good news is, the legal framework is solid, it handles the cases well. We just have never dedicated the resources to move these cases along quickly and remove these people quickly.