Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) proposed an immigration measure on March 24 that aims to close loopholes in the asylum system and change policies that may be contributing to the escalating crisis on the southern border.
Upon taking office in January, President Joe Biden revoked a host of Trump-era immigration measures that had largely stemmed the flow of illegal aliens into the country. The changes triggered a surge in illegal crossings, especially by unaccompanied minors, more than 11,000 of whom were being kept in overcrowded facilities as of March 23.
Graham’s bill would require asylum-seekers from the Northern Triangle countries—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—to apply for refugee status at asylum centers outside the United States. The proposal would also afford equal treatment to unaccompanied minors from the Northern Triangle as those from Canada and Mexico. Under the current law, unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Canada are returned to their home countries.
“The Biden administration has lost control of the southern border. It’s time to regain control and you have to deal with the dynamic that led to the border being overrun,” Graham said at a press conference in Washington on March 24.
“This is not Trump’s fault. That’s a bunch of B.S. This is policy choices that were ill-conceived that have blown up in the Biden administration’s face.”
The Secure and Protect Act of 2021 would also extend the amount of time illegal alien families can be detained together; currently, officials are limited to holding families together for a maximum of 20 days. The bill would also authorize the hiring of 500 new immigration judges and necessary support staff to handle a backlog of roughly 1 million immigration cases.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) co-sponsored the bill.
Graham introduced the bill as the Biden administration struggles to deal with a surge of illegal aliens across the southern border. Republicans in the House and Senate have sought to draw attention to the crisis, while a group of more than a dozen Republican senators are planning a trip to the border in the coming days.
Unlike the Trump administration, which actively sought out press coverage of border concerns, the Biden administration has barred press access to border operations.
The White House is under increasing pressure to address the influx of unaccompanied minors. Early in his term, Biden issued an exemption on Title 42 deportations for unaccompanied minors. The Trump administration had used Title 42 authority to send back illegal aliens, due to concerns over the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
“That spread like wildfire throughout Central America. Word is out that an unaccompanied child will not be sent back under Title 42. They will remain in the United States,” Graham said.