WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Sen. Lindsay Graham says it’s time for U.S. leaders to get together and solve a very real crisis at the southern border.
Graham, R-South Carolina, said he plans to introduce what he calls the Secure and Protect Act of 2019 in an effort to get President Donald Trump, Democrats and his fellow Republicans to put politics aside and get serious about dealing with the flood of immigrants coming into the country.
“I am urging the president to lead us to a solution,” Graham said, “and stop a humanitarian crisis that I think is going to get worse over time.”
John Sanders, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says the flow of migrants from Central America is unprecedented.
“So far this year we’ve apprehended more than 285,000 family units,” he said.
Graham says migrants are finding loopholes in our immigration laws and gaining asylum.
“A wall will not fix this,” he said. “People are trying to be captured.”
“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,” Graham further explained. “Your hearing date is years away, and we release inside the country.”
Graham says his legislation seeks to stop that. The bill would require those seeking asylum to apply in their home countries instead of at the border. He said it would also allow immigration officials to hold families together for up to 100 days – five times more than the 20 currently allowed by law – and it would immediately hire 500 new immigration judges to reduce the backlog of cases.
Graham says he will hold hearings on the plan and hopes Democrats will help him craft a bill they can support and the president will sign.
But some Democrats say Graham’s proposal misses the mark.
“The fact that Sen. Graham, who in the past has been supportive of dealing with Dreamers and in the past has been supportive of broad-based comprehensive immigration reform, his plan fell well short of that,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said.
According to Graham, if Congress and the president can’t get together on this, the American people will hold all of them accountable.