Sen. Lindsey Graham: Illegals Are Trying to Get Caught by Border Patrol Agents

By Melanie Arter | May 16, 2019 | 12:47pm EDT
(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

( – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced a plan on Wednesday to deal with the immigration crisis on the border with his bill – the Secure and Protect Act of 2019.

The bill would require Central Americans seeking asylum to apply at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country or from refugee processing centers within Mexico.

It would change the loophole that prevents unaccompanied minors from Central America from being sent back to their home country. It calls for extending the amount of time that illegal immigrant families with minor children are detained to 100 days. It also calls for hiring 500 new immigration judges to reduce the backlog of asylum cases.

Graham said illegal immigrants are purposely trying to get caught by Border Patrol agents, because they can take advantage of the lax U.S. immigration laws.


“People are trying to get caught,” he said. “They’re not avoiding getting caught, so when we talk about building a wall as Republicans, that makes sense to stop illegal entry into the country – try to direct people into the areas where we have a better chance of apprehending them. That doesn’t work when the goal of the person is to find a Border Patrol agent and turn yourself in.

“I’m in charge of foreign assistance in the Appropriations Committee. I actually created the Alliance for Prosperity, a $750 million account working with Vice President Biden to provide economic assistance, deal with corruption, and enhancing security in the Northern Triangle countries,” Graham said.

“You could triple that amount of money and not stop this problem, so to those who want to give more money to Central America, it won’t stop the problem. They’re going to keep coming to the United States, because life is better here than it is there, and no amount of money is going to stop people from coming,” he said.

Graham said no border wall, drones, or Border Agents will stop illegal immigrants from coming into the U.S., because their goal is to be apprehended.

“No matter how high the wall will be built, no matter how many drones you have, no matter how many agents you put at the border, they’ll keep coming, because they want to get caught. And here’s what happening when they turn themselves in. If you’re an unaccompanied minor from Central America, under our law, we can only hold you 20 days at DHS. Then we turn you over to Labor, HHS,” the senator said.

“Ninety-eight percent of the unaccompanied minors who make it to America from Central America never leave the United States, so families know this. Word is out on the street in the Northern Triangle countries that if your child can get here by themselves, then the chance of them staying in America’s almost 100 percent,” Graham said.

The senator said under current law, illegal alien family units with a minor child can only be held for up to 20 days, “because we don’t want to separate the family.”

“We don’t have enough detention bed space. We release the entire family after 20 days. So word is out on the street in Central America that if you bring a minor child with you, your chance of being deported goes to almost zero. Your hearing date is years away, and we release you inside the country, and that’s the goal of coming,” he said.

Graham described how his bill would address the migrant crisis.

“In the future, you can apply for asylum from Central America, but you have to do so in an American consulate or embassy in your home country. We’re gonna try to set up a facility in Mexico. No more asylum claims at the U.S. border if you’re from Central America,” Graham said.

“If you’re an unaccompanied minor, we’re going to change the law to allow the minor to be sent back to their home country in a safe and secure fashion as if the minor child was from Mexico or Canada. There’s a loophole in our law that we’re going to close,” he said.

“Instead of having 20 days to process a family with a minor child, we’re going to increase it to 100 days so that the family can be detained humanely and we can get the claim processed and not have to release them into the country. We’re gonna hire 500 new immigration judges that deal with the 900,000-person asylum backlog to clear the backlog,” the senator said.

“If we’ll do these four things, then the incentive that’s created by our laws will cease to exist. This humanitarian disaster will begin to repair itself, and I am willing to sit down with Democrats to find a way to address the underlying problem in Central America. I’m willing to put other immigration ideas on the table to marry up with this, but what I’m not willing to do is to ignore this problem any longer,” Graham said.


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