Lindsey Graham: Democrats ‘Can’t Have It Both Ways’ On Immigration Reform

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham criticized Democrats for their across-the-board opposition to immigration proposals by the Trump administration.

“Democrats can’t have it both ways,” the lawmaker tweeted Thursday. “They object to immigrant family separation because minors can only be held by [the Department of Homeland Security] for 20 days. But when [President Donald] Trump tries to keep families together for a period of time to adjudicate claims, they also object.”

Graham was responding to Democratic opposition against Trump’s plan to work around the Flores Settlement Agreement — a plan that would keep migrant families together for the duration of their court proceedings. However, as Graham pointed out, Democrats also opposed the president’s other proposals to address the illegal immigration crisis.

The Trump administration will establish licensing regimes for family residential centers that house immigrant family units under the newly released plan. By doing this, these residential centers will be able to hold migrant families for the entire duration of their court proceedings — forgoing the current situation where hundreds of thousands of migrant family members have been released into the U.S. before their asylum claims are adjudicated.

Such a measure, DHS argues, would eliminate a major incentive for illegal immigrant families who fraudulently lodge asylum claims in hopes of exploiting U.S. immigration laws.

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan officially introduced the proposal Wednesday and Democrats on Capitol Hill and beyond condemned it.

“The Administration is seeking to codify child abuse, plain and simple. Its appalling, inhumane family incarceration plan would rip away basic protections for children’s human rights, reversing decades-long and court-imposed rules and violating every standard of morality and civilized behavior,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday. The California Democrat said she expects the “District Court to swiftly strike” the change down.

Democratic presidential candidates also took a swipe at the proposal.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham holds news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham holds a news conference to discuss immigration legislation and the U.S.-Mexico border on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“This is another example of this administration’s cruelty,” former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.” “Your viewers will notice that they go to so many lengths to be so much more cruel than anything that has come before us.”

Democrats also objected to family separation and criticized Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. Such opposition has given the Trump administration few options in attempting to address the border crisis. (RELATED: North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Vetoes Anti-Sanctuary Bill)

“Clearly, Democrats are comfortable with releasing migrants with minor children into the interior of the U.S. knowing the vast majority will never show up for their immigration hearing!” Graham said Thursday.

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