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Graham Introduces Bill to End Asylum Abuse and Regain Control of our Southern Border

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced the Secure and Protect Act of 2023, an act to reform broken border policies and stop the rampant abuse of our asylum system.

The problem has been exacerbated by President Biden, who in one of his first actions upon taking office, eliminated the “Remain in Mexico” policy implemented by President Trump, which had greatly reduced the abuse of asylum laws and illegal crossings. The Biden Administration has continued to fight the reimplementation of the policy in court. The result of ending “Remain in Mexico” and other successful Trump border policies has been record-breaking numbers of illegal crossings of the southern border.  

“The closest thing to a silver bullet to fix our broken border is to reform our asylum system,” said Graham.  “What attracts so many illegal immigrants to our country?  It’s the belief that once you get here and claim asylum, you will never leave.” 

“We now have a situation where most migrants turn themselves in to the first American they can find to claim asylum,” said Graham.  “We must update our laws.  The current system is being abused.”

The Secure and Protect Act of 2023 would:

  • Ensure asylum applications from residents of the Northern Triangle or countries that border it would be filed at refugee processing centers – not in the United States. These centers would be established in Central America and Mexico.
  • Modify U.S. law to allow families to be held together safely for longer than the 20 days currently allowed by the Flores decision, and require families to be processed swiftly as priority cases.   
  • Appoint 500 new immigration judges and requisite support staff to reduce the current backlog of cases.
  • Treat unaccompanied minors (UAC) from Central America the same as minors from Canada and Mexico. This would allow the United States to return all UAC to their country of origin after appropriate screening.

Full text of the bill is available here.

Background on the crisis at the southern border (October-January Fiscal Year (FY) 2023).

  • There were 874,449 encounters with illegal aliens on the southern border in the first four months of FY23.
  • There were 156,274 encounters in January FY23, more than in any other January on record.
  • There were 251,978 encounters in December FY23, breaking the all-time record for the most encounters in a month.
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted 53 known or suspected terrorists between ports of entry in the past 4 months.
  • CBP also seized 12,494 lbs. of fentanyl in the past 4 months.
  •         That’s enough to kill over 2.8 billion people.
  • There were 278,000 gotaways – individuals known to have evaded apprehension – from Oct. FY23 to Dec. FY23.
  •         That brings the total number of gotaways under President Biden to 1.2 million