The “crisis” at the U.S. southern border is no longer a remote, faraway problem. It has become local with the report of more that 200 asylum seekers arriving in Portland, a situation that has overtaxed local facilities.

Kevin McAleenan, former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, testifying before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this year, stated: “In February, we saw roughly 40,000 family unit members in four weeks. This represents an almost 340 percent increase, year-to-date, over last year.”

The situation is not President Donald Trump’s fault, but the result of bills passed by Congress, signed into law by several presidents, plus court cases, and stretching back to a 1997 agreement by the Clinton administration, allowing unaccompanied alien minors to remain in the country pending the outcome of their court cases.

What is not understood is that very few of the asylum seekers receive asylum; only 13 percent in fiscal year 2018, according to a report by the Executive Office For Immigration Review.

What is troubling is an announcement on Sen. Susan Collins’ website that the Senate Appropriations Committee voted for “$30 million to help Cities Like Portland Cope with Asylum Seekers.” If most asylum seekers are denied asylum, why provide funding that will only encourage more to seek asylum in the United States?

Instead, Sen. Collins should be supporting a bill by her colleague, Sen. Graham, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that would close the loopholes in the asylum system and bring some sanity to the asylum system.

Robert Casimiro, Bridgton