Although migrant detention facilities around the country are already buckling under the pressure of housing asylum seekers, Senator Lindsey Graham wants to increase the detention period for children from 20 to 100 days. He claims that his plan would “stop 90 percent of the illegal immigration from Central America,” Newsweek reports.
"We got a perfect storm now because of broken laws," Graham said in an interview with Sunday Morning Futures host Maria Bartiromo. "Word is out on the street in Central America, if you bring a minor child with you to America, we can only hold a minor child for 20 days, where we release everybody, including the adults. They never show up for the hearing because it's three years from now.”
"You can only hold a minor for 20 days. We're going to go to 100 days," he said.
The “20-day rule” referenced by the South Carolina Republican was detailed in the 1997 Flores agreement, which drew upon a Supreme Court case that set national standards on how federal officials should handle migrant children. Trump administration officials, including the president, have repeatedly pushed back against the 20-day rule.
Graham’s new bill, in addition to quintupling the length of child detention, also reportedly makes huge changes to asylum rules. One of these changes includes prohibiting asylum seekers from claiming asylum at the border.
"Most importantly, you can no longer apply for asylum at our border. If you're from Central America, you have to apply for asylum at a consulate in your country," Graham said.
"We're going to set up one in Mexico. You can apply. If you don't apply there, you're going to be turned down when you get to our border," he continued. "So we're going to change the underlying broken laws to stop what I think is literally an invasion of people from Central America."
Graham expressed intent to introduce his proposal on Wednesday.