“They’re making it virtually impossible to get through a port of entry,” Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley told BuzzFeed News.

US Customs and Border Patrol agents routinely turning away asylum seekers is even more of a problem now because the United States is prosecuting everyone caught trying to cross the border illegally, Merkley said. Under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that indicts everyone caught crossing illegally, parents are being systematically separated from their kids because they can’t be held with them in federal prison.

“They have to sleep there during the night, some for as long as 12 days,” Merkley said. “They’re being blocked at official points and being blocked at the unofficial points if they’re seeking asylum. They’re really shutting our borders down for those seeking asylum.”