Sen. Graham: 'If I Were Mitch McConnell, I Would Make Every Democrat Vote on My (Immigration) Bill'

Susan Jones | August 19, 2019 | 10:14am EDT
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Central American migrants -- mostly Honduran -- make their way to the U.S. border after spending the night in central Mexico. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

( - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up Graham's immigration bill, which would remove the incentive for Central Americans and other foreigners to seek asylum in the United States, something that is happening in record numbers right now.

"I want to change the asylum law, so that you have to apply in Central America or Mexico, you don't come to America anymore," Graham told "Sunday Morning Futures" with Maria Bartiromo.

And people will stop paying these coyotes and smugglers to get to America if they really realize you can't apply for asylum here, you're sent back to Mexico or your home country.

They will stop bringing small children if we hold the family long enough to adjudicate the claim, send them all back. If they win the claim, they can be released here in the country. Until you stop that, they're going to keep coming.

So what do the Democrats want? They want to decriminalize entry into our country and give people free health care. They could not be more opposite than where we are. So, if I were Mitch McConnell, I would make every Democrat vote on my bill to change our laws on the Flores decision and change asylum, so we can stop the flow from Central America, because it's just a matter of time that a terrorist takes advantage of the loopholes in our laws.

Graham said the border situation will never improve until the laws are changed:

"You can build a wall, a 2,200-mile wall. It won't matter here. People from Central America are turning themselves in. They're running to the first Border Patrol agent they can find and claiming asylum.

"Under our law, Maria, if you put one foot into the United States and ask for asylum, your hearing is three years away, you're entitled to a hearing, and people never show up.

"If you bring a small child, we can only hold the child for 20 days. Since we don't want to separate families, we let the entire family go -- 52,000 families have been released along the Rio Grande sector of the border alone, because we don't have the capability to hold families.

"And the Flores decision, putting a 20-day limit on holding a minor child, is being abused. So if you don't change the Flores decision, you don't require asylum applications in the home country or Mexico, they will keep coming. They will never stop coming. And we need to change our laws.

"And if I were Mitch McConnell, I would make Democrats voted on my bill."

Graham said on one of his trips to the border, he discovered that among the 985 men in a makeshift detention center, 62 different countries were represented.

Some were from Syria and Iran, he said: "They're advertising in the Mideast, if you come to Guatemala -- Guatemala, it costs you about $30,000 -- they will give you a smuggler to get you the U.S. border. Then you find the first Border Patrol agent you can find and turn yourself in and seek asylum. They're playing the system.

"And to my Democratic colleagues, I will work with you on DACA. I will do some of the things that you want to do. I will invest in Central America to make life better, but you have got to work with us to change our laws. President Trump is right about this," Graham concluded.


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