Sen. Graham's Immigration Bill Would Allow 100-Day Detention of Central American Children

Susan Jones | May 13, 2019 | 7:47am EDT
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Sen. Lindsey Graham (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

( - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he plans to release his immigration legislation this week, on Wednesday, and if the bill passes, he expects it to "stop 90 percent of the illegal immigration from Central America."

"Well, we got a perfect storm now because of broken laws," Graham told "Sunday Morning Futures" with Maria Bartiromo:

If you're from Central America, we can't send unaccompanied minors back to Central America, like you do from Mexico and Canada. We're going to change that.

You can only hold a minor for 20 days. We're going to go to 100 days. But, most importantly, you can no longer apply for asylum at our border. If you're from Central America, you have to apply for asylum at a consulate in your country.

We're going to set up one in Mexico. You can apply. If you don't apply there, you're going to be turned down when you get to our border. So we're going to change the underlying broken laws to stop what I think is literally an invasion of people from Central America. I'm going to introduce it Wednesday.

Graham said if the Democrats have a better idea, he'd like to hear it:

"We got a 900,000-person backlog. I'm going to have 500 immigration judges to clear the backlog. If you got a better idea, say so. It is not a manufactured crisis. I want to start a debate on how to fix this problem before it just swamps the border."

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the United States is on track to apprehend a million Central Americans in the current fiscal year, many of them asylum seekers.

Graham said that's because word has spread in Central America -- "if you bring a minor child with you to America, we can only hold a minor child for 20 days, where we release everybody, including the adults. They never show up for the hearing because it's three years from now."

He also noted that asylum seekers are walking up to Border Patrol agents and turning themselves in,  knowing that their immigration hearings are years away. "Nobody ever shows up for the hearing," Graham said. "So we're going to change the asylum law that you have to apply in the country where you live, or Mexico. We're going to stop Central American applications being made at the border, because we don't have enough judges for hearing dates."

Graham said the changes he's proposing "should stop 90 percent of the illegal immigration from Central America."

Graham said the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will hold a hearing and take a vote on his bill:

"The Democrats are going to do one of two things, work with us to find a bipartisan solution, ignore the problem. And if they ignore the problem, it's going to help Trump. If they work with us, it helps the whole country."

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