“Blame me but we’re not going to stop”, he said. Senator Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee kept his promise to move a bill on asylum out of the committee today. Committee Democrats aren’t happy about that. Graham acknowledges his failure to get joint support, but that’s the breaks. He’s moving forward.
“I don’t want to separate families. I want to adjudicate families and I don’t want to release families unless they win their day. So, right now, we’re in the worst of all worlds. We can’t hold children beyond 20 days. If you don’t want to separate the family you have to let them all go because we just don’t have the capability to hold them. This is a mess, it’s a disaster and it needs to change.” He voiced disappointment that the committee couldn’t reach agreement on a broader package but noted he doesn’t want the committee to become irrelevant.
Graham: "The clerk will call the roll."@SenFeinstein: "Your breaking the rules of the committee…This is unprecedented."
Graham: "No, it's not."
— CSPAN (@cspan) August 1, 2019
Fair enough. Graham isn’t willing to let reform of immigration law languish in his committee at the hands of Democrat obstruction. In this case, it is asylum law reform. It’s a step toward alleviating some of the overcrowding and burdens on the southern border brought about by migrants trying to enter the U.S. Democrat members of the committee object to Graham’s sense of urgency.
“I told him it is the first immigration bill before the committee in the last six or seven years. It’s the first partisan immigration bill that we’ve ever had, that I know of,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat who has worked with Graham on numerous immigration bills over the years.
“I think it’s a terrible mistake that will sharply divide our committee,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, another Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
No one believes Coons’ claim that this vote will “sharply divide our committee” because the committee is already sharply divided, just as is the rest of the Congress. All anyone has to do to prove that point is to watch a judicial committee hearing, especially on taking up the nomination of a potential Supreme Court justice. Does the name Kavanaugh ring a bell?
It’s not as though Graham hasn’t tried to reach an agreement with Democrats. He postponed an earlier vote on legislation to continue negotiations with Durbin and he tried to work with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, too. Democrats wanted to pair his changes to asylum laws with increased humanitarian aid to Central American countries. A chairman has to do what a chairman has to do.
“I made a promise to the people at the border that I would try to fix this,” Graham said, referring to federal law enforcement agents. “I waited for six weeks. A lot of people wanted to take the bill directly to the floor. I didn’t particularly want to do that. I am trying to keep it in the committee, but I gotta act. I am the chairman of the committee.”
In this bill, people seeking to claim asylum to enter America have to first claim asylum in their home countries. This is meant to address the crisis-level influx of migrants, which has grown due to illegitimate asylum claims. Simply seeking employment or higher wages doesn’t qualify as an asylum claim. The normal process of immigrating to the U.S. would apply. Migrants from Central America – especially those in the traveling caravans – are being coached to just say they want asylum at the border, or when they are apprehended by Border Patrol agents.
Graham made good on his plan to use procedural maneuvers to circumvent committee rules. Thursday morning he called for a vote in the Senate Judicial Committee. The yeas won and the bill is passed out of the committee.
The bill is introducing some pretty basic changes to asylum law, especially in handling families at the border. The proposed increase in immigration judges will help to speed up the process and move migrants more quickly.
It would increase the number of days a family can be held together from 20 days to 100 days, preventing family separations but lengthening the period children could be held in custody with their parents.
It would also require asylum claims be filed in Mexico or a home country instead of the United States, provide funding for 500 new immigration judges and allow unaccompanied minors from Central America to be sent back to their home countries, similar to unaccompanied minors from Canada or Mexico.
Today’s vote should not be controversial, nor should it have been obstructed for as long as it has been. It is Democrats trying desperately to continue to make illegal immigration and open borders a campaign issue in 2020. Democrats would rather prey on a humanitarian crisis than work on real solutions.