Lindsey Graham Promises Bill to Block Central American Migration

Asylum Seekers
Benjamin Alfaro/AFP via Getty Images

Judiciary chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham says he will push an asylum reform bill that will help block the Central American migration into the United States.

“The president has correctly identified the [migration] crisis at the border, now it’s time to have a legislative solution,” Graham told Fox News on Sunday. “You need to change our laws for this to stop, so I’ll be introducing a package — and hopefully with Democratic support — that will change our asylum laws.”

The bill would end the 20-day “Flores” limit on the detention of migrants with children which was imposed in 2015 by progressive California judges and would end a 2008 law which bars the easy return of children and youths to Central America. The bill will also raise the “Credible Fear” standard so that migrants with weak claims for asylum are not allowed into the United States to file for asylum, he said.

However, Graham also suggested that the Democrats will want something in return.

“The administration is going around Congress talking to Democrats about what they want if we do change the laws, what would they like in return,” Graham said. “I’m going to try to find a compromise here … hopefully, we will get some Democratic support.”

So far, no Democrats have suggested they would agree to reform the Flores decision, the Credible Fear standard, or 2008 ‘TVPRA’ law, partly because those rules have allowed and encouraged the Central American migration into the United States.

Graham said he will draft a fix with President Donald Trump and with Wisconsin Republic Sen. Ron Johnson, who chairs the homeland security committee, and then ask Democrats to craft a compromise.  “We’ll try to figure out a deal that will stop this madness.”

However, the compromise suggested by Graham may be a compromise between goals of the Democratic and Republican establishments, not a compromise among the public’s rival goals of ending the inflow and of welcoming migrants.

Establishment leaders in both parties can chart a compromise that would deliver more migrants to serve as cheap workers and future voters. But the divided public would only welcome some migrants — providing the migrants do not hurt Americans’ wages, drive up rents, crowd schools, or spike crime.

In 2013, Graham and Senators in both parties drafted a bipartisan compromise of their establishment goals in the “Gang of Eight” amnesty. Those goals were championed by Democrats but were strongly opposed by Americans, and in November 2014, voters gave the GOP an extra nine seats, so keeping New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and other Democrats in the minority for at least six years.

Graham is a strong backer of cheap labor migration. In January 2018, Graham said he wants to import more workers for skilled and unskilled jobs:

We need more legal immigration … I don’t want green cards just for computer engineers. If you are out there working in the fields, if you are a construction worker, I want some of those people to have a way to stay here, because if you are running a business and you have a guest worker who is really good, and would add value to our country, I want them to have a chance to get a green card. I just don’t want to be a country in the future of just computer engineers or high-tech people.

Johnson also favors much greater use of imported workers.

The Central American migrant inflow will continue until the laws are changed, Graham said. In Central America, “the word is out … If you bring a minor child with you, you’ll never get deported,” he said. “We need to change that narrative.”


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