Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News on Tuesday that Al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists may seek to exploit President Joe Biden’s lax immigration policies, which he blamed for already leading to a greater influx of illegal immigrants from south of the border.
Graham told Sean Hannity in an interview that Biden’s policy shifts around immigration—away from former President Donald Trump’s get-tough approach—are “a disaster in the making” and “the worst is yet to come.”
The South Carolina Republican warned that, with the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks approaching, “Al Qaeda and ISIS would love nothing more than to hit us again … to show that they are still alive and well.”
“This border insecurity is a great way for terrorists to come into our country,” Graham said, adding that, unless the Biden administration restores some Trump-era policies, the rush on the border will only get worse.
Biden has taken a number of actions meant to reform U.S. immigration policy, including sending to Congress legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, halting border wall construction, and rescinding Trump-era restrictions on asylum seekers.
The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), dubbed the “Remain in Mexico” program, was one Trump-era policy that the Biden administration has taken into its crosshairs. Under the “Remain in Mexico” policy, asylum-seekers were made to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings. On Feb. 12, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans for tens of thousands of asylum-seekers who have been waiting in Mexico under the MPP program to be allowed into the United States while their cases make their way through immigration courts.
Graham said Biden’s rollback of Trump’s MPP program policy was behind the recent rush on the border.
“Word is out that the Trump policies are being replaced by the Biden administration [policy] that if you get one foot in America, you are never going to leave,” Graham told Hannity.
Federal agents apprehended more than 78,000 illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in January 2021, more than double the number a year ago, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
“People will be coming … by the hundreds of thousands by the summer. It is a humanitarian crisis. It’s going to be an economic crisis for our cities along the border, and eventually is going to be a national security crisis, because they’re children today but they could easily be terrorists tomorrow,” Graham said.
Homeland Security said in a statement that its announcement that some asylum seekers could cross the border into the United States while their cases are heard “should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States.”
But Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), in an interview last week with The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program, disagreed. Roy argued that this is precisely how the move is being interpreted by those seeking to enter the United States illegally and by human traffickers who prey on such people.
“It’s causing an empowerment of cartels,” Roy said. “And it is causing an attraction of human beings to come here where they think they’re going to get here and get amnesty, and a rush to our border.”
Echoing Graham’s remarks, Roy called Biden’s immigration policy a “wide open borders” approach that endangers the lives of American citizens as well as the lives of immigrants who are seeking to come to the United States.
“There are immigrants in stash houses being abused,” Roy said. “There are immigrants being abused on the journey. There are cartels that are using these people for profit. That is happening right now. And it is happening because Democrats are irresponsible and refuse to secure our border.”
White House chief of staff Ron Klain, in a March 9 interview on Punchbowl News, acknowledged the immigration problem was a “big challenge,” saying Biden inherited a “broken” system in need of reform.
“We’ve had a system that’s been broken for a long time. Prior presidents have tried to fix it, they’ve been unable to fix it,” Klain said, reiterating the Biden administration’s commitment to immigration reform.
“We know it’s hard to fix a system that’s been broken for this long,” he said, adding he hopes Republicans will join the work on immigration reform.
A recent Republican staff report (pdf) makes the case that Biden shouldn’t rush to undo Trump’s moves on border security.
“If the Biden Administration continues to undo President Trump’s immigration policy successes and implement a radical immigration agenda, it will result in less security at the border, reduced interior enforcement, and an increased risk from criminal and other aliens who want to do us harm,” the report says.