© Greg Nash
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that thousands of young children crossing the U.S. border must be sent back to their home countries to dissuade others from sending their family members here.
Graham said the Obama administration must be clear in its policy that there should be no expectation that unaccompanied children will be able to stay in the United States.“It’s a humanitarian problem but it’s apart from immigration reform, this is a specific problem created by the impression that if you get to America that you can stay,” Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”“We’ve got to turn that impression around, send these children back and tell the countries in question that if you don’t keep them and take care of them we’re going to cut all aid off.”Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (R-Ariz.) said on the same show that anyone seeking asylum should instead go to the U.S. embassies and consulates and “we’ll beef up those capabilities.”“But don’t come to the American border,” McCain said.Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who represents a border district, acknowledged that there is an incentive in place.He argued that the administration failed to anticipate a predictable crisis and remains "one step behind" in addressing it."Our immigration courts are so back-logged. There's not enough detention spaces. … This is the incentive we have to take away,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”Although comprehensive immigration reform appears dead for the year, if not beyond Obama’s presidency, McCain said he would continue the push.“We’ll just continue the fight, we’ll continue a respectful effort to convince our colleagues in the House that we need to move forward on this issue,” he said.“But it doesn’t help when you have a president who says he has a pen and he has a phone.”McCain said he will continue to make the argument on the “grounds of security at the border as well as the fact that you cannot deport 11 million people.”Graham, who, along with McCain, has been a strong advocate for immigration reform, said if the president goes it alone he "is going to make it so much harder.""There are people in the Republican Party who get it” on immigration reform, but are exasperated by the president’s push to change the laws on his own, Graham said.“It’s very hard for us, those who do get it, to work with him because he’s unilaterally changed every law he doesn’t like and now he’s putting immigration on the list,” Graham said.Last month, Vice President Biden was sent to Guatemala to discuss ways to stem the flood of Central American children and families that has overwhelmed U.S. immigration officials.Obama is expected this week to ask for more than $2 billion to make changes that will allow the U.S. to expand detention facilities and deport more migrants, including children, more quickly.He also is expected to seek a change that would treat minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras the same way those from Mexico are treated. In some cases, those children can be deported more quickly.