Gillibrand says she would eliminate detention system for immigrants

Gillibrand wants to eliminate detention system for immigrants

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York says she would eliminate the detention system for immigrants waiting for their claims to be processed in U.S. immigration courts, insisting that if immigrants were released into the community with a court date and a lawyer, they would show up.

Gillibrand, a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, told "Face the Nation" she would overhaul the immigration system to fund anti-terrorism and anti-drug trafficking measures at the border while developing a more "humane" system. She said she would eliminate the use of for-profit companies for holding immigrants and do away with the detention system entirely. 

"As president of the United States, I wouldn't use the dentition system at all," Gillibrand said on "Face the Nation."

Pressed about the tens of thousands of immigrants the Department of Homeland Security says are crossing the border, Gillibrand insisted that, given a "proper" immigration process, those immigrants would show up to court. 

"They don't need to be incarcerated," Gillibrand said. "They can — if they're given a lawyer and given a process, they will follow it. They can go into the community in the way we used to handle these cases under the Department of Justice." 

Asked what she has been told about the possibility of the Trump administration sending immigrants to upstate New York, Gillibrand said she has "been informed of absolutely nothing by this administration," but would welcome refugees.

New York, she said, "would be delighted" to take in refugee families, reiterating they "don't need to be locked up." 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told "Face the Nation" earlier Sunday that the administration was no longer considering sending migrants to Florida, Buffalo or Detroit.

On another hot-button issue leading into 2020, Gillibrand voiced serious concerns with states passing more restrictive abortion laws, including the new Alabama law banning abortions after six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. Even Mr. Trump tweeted overnight that he has always supported exceptions on abortion in the case of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake. 

"This is nothing short of an all-out assault on women's reproductive freedom," Gillibrand said of states passing more restrictive abortion laws. 

Gillibrand said Mr. Trump has "started a war on America's women." 

Gillibrand, one of nearly two dozen Democrats who has declared a run for the White House, has been struggling in the polls, encouraging supporters to donate even $1 to her campaign so she can reach the donor threshold needed to qualify in the Democratic debates. But she told "Face the Nation" she doesn't think the crowded field is hurting campaigns like hers. 

"I think primaries are so healthy for our party," Gillibrand said. "It allows candidates to talk about their vision for America, my vision is to make sure we deal with the real problems this country's facing." 

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    Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.