BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said hundreds of thousands of migrants showing up at the U.S. border is both dangerous and unmanageable.
"We need to have commonsense bipartisan solutions to fix the problem because there is a place for legal immigration and there is a place for us to take care of people seeking asylum and refuge," she said.
On Wednesday, she shared an example of bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform she is working on with Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA, to right-size the system and increase the amount of work visas for industries with labor needs like health care, agriculture, hospitality and tech.
"If we created an immigration system that you had to apply from country of origin which President Biden is trying to do right now and if you don't you're not eligible, match it with sponsors, you could create a much healthier legal immigration system so there would be less pressure of people coming to the border," she said.
In the meantime, the New York Democrat said she is working on plans to deal with asylum seekers already in the country. She said the permanent solution is a bill she's sponsoring that would authorize migrants to work 30 days after applying rather than the current 180 days.
"If they're here waiting for their asylum claim to be adjudicated, they should be working," Gillibrand said. "If they're working, they're earning a salary. They are able to pay for their own housing, their own food and their own shelter."
Gillibrand believes the president could expedite the work authorizations in the interim and has asked him to do so either through an executive or emergency order. The administration has appeared hesitant to act on similar requests from Gov. Kathy Hochul.
"There's no precedent for that so they have to figure out what can they do to expedite it under given law. Right now that 180 days is the big problem but I do think under emergency situations you can expedite thing and so I'm really just asking for an emergency declaration," she said.
Gillibrand said she and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were able to secure about $800 million in a fund to help with the crisis around the country, of which New York got about $140 million. She said they are asking for more resources.