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Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Graham Asylum Abuse Fix

WASHINGTON – Today the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Chairman Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) legislation to address the border crisis, the Secure and Protect Act of 2019, by a vote of 12-10. The legislation, with lead co-sponsor U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-Arizona), must now be considered by the full Senate.  

“I will no longer allow our asylum laws to be exploited by human traffickers, smugglers and cartels,” said Graham. “Cartels, smugglers and human traffickers are profiting off immigrants and helping them take advantage of our broken asylum laws. I will no longer allow the loopholes in our laws to be exploited. I will not aid and abet these horrific practices. My bill fixes these problems.” 

The legislation is designed to close gaps in current law which have led to a massive influx of migrants from Northern Triangle countries – Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – who are traveling to the United States, seeking Border Patrol agents, turning themselves in, and claiming asylum. 

Highlights of the Graham legislation: 

  • 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 for longer than the 20 days currently allowed by the Flores decision.    
  • Appoint 500 new immigration judges to reduce the current backlog of cases.
  • Unaccompanied minors (UAC) from Central America would be treated the same as minors from Canada and Mexico. This would allow the United States to return all UAC to their country of origin after screening. 
“Someone has to lead on this issue to repair broken laws,” continued Graham. “This is a national security imperative and a humanitarian necessity. It’s just a matter of time until these loopholes are used by dangerous people to hurt us.” 

“I’m willing to do more to help Central America, but I’m not willing to walk away from changing our laws to stop the massive flow of immigrants coming from Central America and now, throughout the world. Our immigration officials have told me that this legislation, if enacted, would reduce approximately 80 percent of the flow overnight.” 

“I have tried to work with my Democratic colleagues to find a win-win solution, but have failed thus far. My hope is to always achieve bipartisanship, but the current crisis at the border has become a disaster. To do nothing is to maintain the horrific situation we find ourselves in today. That’s unacceptable.” 


Statement from Lead Co-Sponsor U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-Arizona) 

“Our current immigration crisis is a direct result of loopholes in our laws that encourage illegal migration,” McSally said. “This solution is a humane approach to gaining operational control of our borders while addressing the root cause that entices families and children to embark on the dangerous journey north. I appreciate Senator Graham’s leadership to get our bill to the Senate floor and ultimately on the President’s desk – the American people deserve it.”