Martinez, a Republican who served as governor from 2011 to 2019, noted during an appearance on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday that U.S. border authorities have already arrested 500,000 people at the border so far this year.
Martinez said she supports many of the proposals in Sen. Lindsey Graham’s, R-S.C., newly-unveiled immigration bill, which would end asylum claims from Central America at the border and return unaccompanied minors to their home countries — a targeted effort to tackle the escalating migration crisis.
Graham’s bill would also extend the time families can be held together from 20 days to 100 days to help allow claims to be filed without families being released into the U.S., and it would add an additional 500 immigration judges to deal with the backlog of asylum claims.
“At this point, there are communities down in the southern part of the state that are being overwhelmed,” Martinez said, explaining that Border Patrol agents are being pulled in too many directions now to man all the border checkpoints or to meet the humanitarian needs of migrants.
Host Sandra Smith said if Graham’s proposal — or any other immigration reform bill — is to succeed, it will need support from Democrats, which has been difficult to gain.
“It’s politics as always,” Martinez said. “Unfortunately, the people are sick and tired of it. They’re very tired of the politics that are being played in Washington.”
She argued that the legal loopholes that incentivize migrants to make the difficult and dangerous trek to the U.S. must be closed.
She pointed out that she served as a prosecutor for 25 years, and she came across many illegal immigrants who wanted to come to the U.S. for economic opportunity, not as legitimate asylum-seekers.
“The Border Patrol is dealing with these family groups that are being released automatically,” Martinez said. “And immigration is not a new problem. It has been existing for a long time. It is just now at a critical level.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.