I agree wholeheartedly with the comments by John Balentine on the problems with our asylum program (“Asylum-seekers, feds owe Mainers a big thanks,” Aug. 23, 2019).

He rightly castigates the government for the mess we are in, and the principal responsibility lies with the U.S. Congress, which has the authority under the U.S. Constitution – Article. I. Section. 8. – to regulate immigration.

In addition to the U.S. Congress, Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, and the courts are complicit in this ongoing disaster at the border.

Clinton signed a consent agreement in 1997 allowing Unaccompanied Alien Minors (UAM) to remain in the country pending the outcome of their cases, and Bush signed into law the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, further enabling alien minors to stay in the country. The courts piled on in the Reno v. Flores case, with the requirement that UAM’s could not be held in detention for more than 20 days.

Maine’s Congressional delegation, as pointed out, is also complicit because of their ineptness and indifference to this tragedy. Sens. Collins and King, when asked about this, could only recommend “comprehensive immigration reform.” This is ludicrous. The problem requires immediate and focused attention, not a “comprehensive” plan that would be slow to implement and of doubtful effectiveness.

More immigration judges, and more detention and housing facilities are needed. One program that should be getting wide support is the administration’s initiative to have asylum seekers apply for asylum in Mexico, or at U.S. Consulates in their home countries.

Also, we should place a limit on the number of migrants allowed to apply for asylum. We have limits on the number of refugees we accept each year, and there are limits on many immigrant and nonimmigrant (temporary) visas. Why not asylum seekers?

Bob Casimiro

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