WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced legislation, the Secure and Protect Act of 2021, to reform broken policies and stop abuse of our asylum laws. The problem has been exacerbated by President Biden, who in one of his first actions upon taking office, eliminated the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy implemented by President Trump which had greatly reduced the abuse of asylum laws. The legislation is cosponsored by Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina).
The major provisions of the Secure and Protect Act of 2021 include:
- 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 safely for longer than the 20 days currently allowed by the Flores decision. Requires families to be processed swiftly as priority cases.
- Appoint 500 new immigration judges and requisite support staff 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 appropriate screening.
“The current situation at our southern border is beyond a crisis,” said Graham. “The border will continue to be overrun unless the Biden Administration changes course.
“My legislation will deter unaccompanied minors from coming to the United States by requiring them to return to their home country to file their asylum claim,” said Graham. “It would also end asylum abuse by ensuring asylum claims are processed under a more rigorous standard where all claims need to be made outside the United States. When people understand that you can no longer remain in the United States while making asylum claims, the flow will dramatically decrease.”
Graham noted that today, just like in 2018 and 2019 before ‘Remain in Mexico was implemented, our Customs and Border Protection officials are overwhelmed by economic migrants seeking asylum from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, also known as the Northern Triangle countries.
These asylum seekers, and the smugglers who profit off them, have learned to game the U.S. immigration system. Due to our broken asylum system, migrants are emboldened by the ease in which they can simply walk across the border into the United States and remain here. They travel to the U.S.-Mexico border, locate a Customs and Border Protection official, turn themselves in, and request asylum.
Now, officials at the border are looking at numbers of migrants larger than 2018, 2019 and 2020 combined and increasingly, they are children.
In February, Graham traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and met with Border Patrol and Customs officials about the looming problems on our southern border. He is scheduled to visit the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas later this week to continue those discussions.