Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is calling on President Trump to “up his game” on immigration.
Graham, a vocal proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, blasted the nation’s current immigration laws following a lengthy Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday on the administration’s family reunification policies.
“Our laws are completely screwed up. It’s not [Homeland Security] Secretary [Kirstjen] Nielsen’s fault, it is the Congress’s fault and, quite frankly, President Trump needs to up his game,” Graham told a handful of reporters after the hearing.
“Confusion,” Graham said when asked what he learned at the hearing that featured officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Border Patrol and others involved in the administration’s family reunification efforts.
“Trump’s right, our laws are stupid. The idea that 98 percent of unaccompanied minors never leave the country … if that’s not an incentive for parents to send a kid to America, I don’t know what would be,” Graham added.
The Trump administration has worked for weeks to reunite thousands of migrant children with their parents after they were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all illegal border crossers.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, called on Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to step down amid fallout over the policy of separately detaining migrant children and adults.
Trump signed an order last month to end the practice of separating migrant families, and Graham has proposed keeping families together once they’ve crossed the U.S. border “so they can be either adjudicated together.”
Graham has also opposed the idea of abolishing ICE, something advocated by some liberal Democrats, saying “from an interior enforcement point of view, it would be the single worst decision you make. Smugglers would be the biggest beneficiaries because if you have no interior enforcement, once you get here most people don’t show up for the hearing, the smugglers win.”
— Molly K. Hooper