The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Chairman Lindsey Graham’s draft bill to reform the catch-and-release rules at the U.S. border.
The hearing will begin at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and will feature Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.
Graham’s bill, titled “The Secure and Protect Act,” is an important set of fixes, say immigration experts. It would allow border agencies to keep migrants in detention while their asylum claims are weighed, would allow so-called “Unaccompanied Alien Children” to be sent home, and tighter screening for migrants who claim to deserve asylum.
Democrats are blocking those fixes until President Donald Trump is willing to swap a big amnesty for the border fixes — or until Trump is defeated and Democrats return to the White House.
But Graham’s hearing will likely be dominated by GOP and Republican questions about President Donald Trump’s deal with Mexico, which will allow U.S. officials to return asylum seekers to Mexico until their U.S. court date.
The Remain in Mexico policy allows Trump’s border agencies to bypass the “catch and release” policy imposed by Congress and the courts. In the last three months, this federal policy has allowed roughly 350,000 Central American adults and children into U.S. workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods while they wait for court dates to plead their weak legal cases for humanitarian asylum.
The massive influx of migrant workers has reduced pressure on employers to improve wages and working conditions for blue-collar Americans — the homeland security agency issued roughly 400,000 work permits in 2017 and in 2018.
Under the Trump deal, new migrants will be sent back to Mexico until they can be bussed to their asylum court hearings in the United States. The return policy will likely wreck the cartels’ labor trafficking business, which depends on migrants’ confidence that they can get U.S. jobs to repay their smuggling debts.
The return program was initially called “Remain in Mexico,” but has been renamed the “Migration Protection Protocols.”