Mar 21, 2024 - World

Border Patrol chief: Migrants who cross border illegally should face "jail time"

Chief Patrol Agent Jason D. Owens poses for a photo at the Houlton Sector headquarters of the U.S. Border Patrol in Hodgdon on Tuesday, August 20, 2019.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens. Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens said Thursday there needs to be stricter federal immigration policies that include jailing migrants who cross the border illegally from Mexico.

Why it matters: Owens' unvarnished remarks to CBS News come two days after a federal appeals court put on hold SB 4, a tough Texas law that gives state police powers to arrest people on suspicion of illegally crossing the Mexico border as the Biden administration challenges the legislation.

What he's saying: Owens in his interview with CBS called for more resources to deal with the millions of migrants arriving at the border as part of a wider global humanitarian crisis.

  • The Border Patrol chief also wants to see more deterrents for undocumented migrants who cross the border without authorization, including "jail time," he said.
  • "I'm talking about being removed from the country and I'm talking about being banned from being able to come back because you chose to come in the illegal way instead of the established lawful pathways that we set for you."

Zoom out: President Biden campaigned on ending Trump-era border policies, but he has since toughened his stance and has been weighing policies including restricting the ability of migrants to claim asylum.

Go Thursday: Biden challenges Trump on passing border law: "Join me"

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