By Adam Edelman
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a four-pronged bill on Wednesday that he said was “designed to stop the humanitarian crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The plan, which focuses exclusively on immigration from Central America, would mandate that asylum claims be applied for at American consulates in migrants’ home countries, Graham said, announcing his proposal at a news conference inside the U.S. Capitol.
“No more asylum claims at the U.S. border,” he said.
The South Carolina senator said his proposal would also change immigration laws to extend the period of time a family with an unaccompanied minor can be detained at the border to 100 days. Currently, families with an unaccompanied minor can be held for only 20 days — a short period that Graham said creates an incentive for undocumented migrants to try to enter the U.S.
“Under our laws, if you come as a family unit and you come with a minor child, we can only hold the family for 20 days because we don’t want to separate the family,” he said. “We release entire family after 20 days. So word is out on the street in Central America that your chance of being deported is almost zero and your hearing date is years away and we release you inside the country.”
Graham added that he wanted to change the laws so that unaccompanied minors could be sent back to their home countries “in a safe and secure way.”
Graham is also proposing hiring 500 new immigration judges to deal with an asylum application backlog that he said currently comprised 900,000 applications.
“If we do these four things, then the incentive created by our laws will cease to exist and this humanitarian crisis will begin to repair itself,” he said.
Graham’s announcement comes amid efforts by top White House advisers to rally Republicans around a unified message on immigration ahead of the 2020 election.
Trump aide Stephen Miller and adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday to brief Senate Republicans about the broad outlines of an immigration plan the two have drafted. That plan, according to senators, includes conservative ideas on border security and asylum seekers as well as new proposals on legal immigration.
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Trump snubs John McCain during bill signing intended to honor him
By Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — Congress wanted to honor the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. President Donald Trump did not.
In extended remarks during a visit to Fort Drum in upstate New York to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 — this year’s version of an annual bill that sets defense policy — Trump chose not to mention the former prisoner of war and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who is battling brain cancer. He even omitted McCain’s name when citing the title of the bill.
The two men have long been fierce critics of each other, with McCain calling Trump’s supporters “crazies” in 2015 and Trump retaliating by questioning whether McCain, who was subjected to torture in a Vietnamese prison camp, is really a “war hero” because “he was captured.”
The snub at Fort Drum, home to the combat aviation brigade of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, did not escape the notice of McCain’s allies.
“For those asking did I expect Trump to be an a—— today. No more than I expected it to be Monday,” Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime aide, wrote on Twitter.
McCain’s condition — dire enough that a recent HBO documentary on him was titled “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” — has not stopped Trump from deriding the Arizona senator at political rallies. Though Trump does not use his name, he tells crowds that he would have been able to repeal Obamacare if not for a thumbs-down sign from one senator — McCain.
The senator’s own statement included Trump’s name in the headline and in a preamble written by staff. But the words attributed to McCain did not.
“I’m very proud that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 has been signed into law,” he said.
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