Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would effectively overhaul the United States’ asylum process.
The legislation would drastically change numerous sections of existing law, most notably the amount of time the government can legally detain undocumented minors.
Under the proposed legislation, asylum seekers would be subject to increases in the amount of time a family unit can be held together from 20 days to 100 days. If passed, the bill would nullify the Flores ruling, which limits the detention of minors to 20 days. Often admonished by President Donald Trump, the Department of Justice has already attempted to petition the courts to override Flores altogether, though those efforts have remained unsuccessful thus far.
The bill would also require claims for asylum to be filed in the American consulate of the claimant’s home country, no longer allowing asylum seekers entry into the United States.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Graham told reporters that his legislation, which he described as “a nightmare for smugglers,” was necessary because the current system “incentivize[s] a horrible journey…through hell.” He continued, saying that the U.S. currently has “a perfect storm brewing at the border because of a series of broken and outdated laws related to asylum and children, ” adding that, “no matter how high the wall will be built…no matter how many agents you put at the border, they’ll keep coming because they want to get caught.”
In an interview with Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” last week, Graham explained that his bill was designed to discourage adults from bringing children to the border as a “legal shields” and also address the cache of asylum claims clogging up the current immigration courts.
Though unlikely to find support outside of his Republican colleagues, Graham’s plan does include funding for 500 new immigration judges, additions Democrats have long supported, while also allowing for unaccompanied minors from Central America to be treated like those from Mexico and Canada — in that, they will be sent back to their home countries.
Though he’s been divisive figure of late, Graham clearly made attempts to strike a bipartisan tone in calling his colleagues to action.
“If you think this is a Trump created problem, you really just hate Trump,” Graham said, before adding, “and as a Republican if you think we can just do this by building a wall, you’re wrong.”
He also reiterated that he was open to compromise and did not think his legislation would pass unchanged, saying he would be “willing to put other immigration ideas on the table to marry up with this.”
[Image via Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images]