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Lindsey Graham wants to hold toddlers in jail at the border for 100 days

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants to jail immigrant children for way longer than currently allowed by law.

By Dan Desai Martin - May 15, 2019
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Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants to change the immigration law so that immigrant toddlers and children can be detained five times longer than currently allowed. In an interview with Sunday Morning Futures, Graham said he plans to introduce legislation to detain immigrant children for up to 100 days.

“You can only hold a minor for 20 days. We’re going to go to 100 days,” Graham said about legislation he plans to introduce on Wednesday.

The current 20-day limit is based on a 1997 settlement which says the U.S. government must swiftly release children into the custody of their parents, relatives, or others without undue delay. But Graham wants to lock up immigrant children for much, much longer.

Graham’s legislation mirrors a desire by Trump to detain immigrant children longer.

In addition to quintupling the time children can be detained, Graham also wants to prevent asylum-seekers from Central America from claiming asylum at the border. Instead, Graham wants to force asylum-seekers to make their claim in their home country or Mexico.

In making his case, Graham blatantly lies about how often asylum-seekers show up for their court hearings. Graham complains because children, and often adults, who claim asylum are released from federal custody as they await their asylum hearing.

When someone comes to the U.S. and claims asylum, the hearings “are two, three, four years down the road,” Graham says. “Nobody ever shows up for the hearing.”

Graham is correct in that there is a backlog of immigration cases. But he is flat-out lying about how often asylum-seekers show up for hearings.

According to data from the Department of Justice, 89% of asylum-seekers showed up for their court dates in 2017. That number was 91% in 2016 and 93% in 2015.

In fact, President Obama started a program which paired asylum-seekers with a case manager to assist them. Those participating in the program showed up for their court dates 100% of the time. Trump ended the program in June 2017.

Graham’s anti-immigrant animus is clear in the language he uses to describe immigrants, calling the influx of asylum-seekers “literally an invasion of people” coming from Central America.

And rather than seek out a compassionate strategy to deal with asylum-seekers who are oftentimes fleeing violence and life-threatening situations, Graham wants to toss children in detainment for longer periods of time.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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