Sen. Graham Plans to Introduce Bill That Will Stop the Immigration 'Madness'

Susan Jones | April 15, 2019 | 5:19am EDT
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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

( - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says he's tired of talking about the immigration problem. "I want to fix it," he told "Sunday Morning Futures" with Maria Bartiromo.

He said he is now working with the White House on legislation intended to "stop this madness."

"The president has correctly identified the crisis at the border. Now it's time to have a legislative solution. You need to change our laws for this to stop," Graham said:

So I will be introducing a package, and, hopefully, with Democratic support, that will change our asylum laws. Ninety percent of the people who apply for asylum never make it, so the standard needs to change. We have a court decision called the Flores decision that says you can only hold a minor child 20 days.

If a family comes here with a minor child, we release the entire family after 20 days, because we don't have bed space. So we need to change that decision. And also we have a quirk in our law that if you're from Central America, you cannot be sent back home as a minor child because of a law on the books that prohibits sending children back from noncontiguous countries.

So the only place we can send a child back to is Mexico and Canada. We need to be sending these kids back to Central America, where they come from. So I'm going to put a legislative package together right after the break. We're going to mark it up in the Judiciary Committee and we're going to get on with solving this problem.

Voting on a bill with put everyone on record, Graham said, but he added, "I hope we do more than just vote. I hope we solve the problem."

He has three goals in mind:

The first part of Graham's plan deals with asylum.

He noted that the United States is part of an international treaty that offers asylum to people "when they're under threat of life and limb." But under that treaty, migrants are supposed to apply for asylum in the first safe country they reach, which would be Mexico, in the case of Central American migrants.

"But if you get one foot in the United States, and you read a card claiming asylum, you're entitled to a hearing," he said. "We don't have bed space to hold you until that hearing date, so we release you into the country, and people never come back for the hearing. So let's toughen up our asylum standard. If 90 percent are failing to meet the standard, the standard needs to change. So that's number one."

Number two, Graham said the Flores legal decision needs to change:

"It's impossible to do a hearing in 20 days. So, we're going to try to change the time you can hold an unaccompanied minor or a minor child beyond 20 days, because if you come up with a family, and you have got minor kids in the family, we release the whole family in 20 days, because you don't want to separate families. So we need to fix the Flores decision.

"And, finally, there's a quirk in the law that if you're from Central America as a minor child, we can't send you back. We need to change that law, so we can send them back to Central America, where they came from."

Graham said he's working on legislation with the White House right now, while Congress is on its spring break.

"I have got to get a package that will deter people from Central America from continuing to come, change our asylum laws, make sure you have more than 20 days to deal with an unaccompanied minor, and you can send people back to Central America.

"It's got to be a bill the president will sign. Once we get agreement between myself and the White House and Senator (Ron) Johnson, the Homeland Security chairman, who has some jurisdiction here, we will put together a package. We will sit down with our Democratic colleagues and try to figure out a deal that will stop this madness.

"We need troops at the border. We need a wall. But there's no way you're going to stop the flow from Central America until you change our laws. And these laws are insane. We need to change them."

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