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Senate GOP steamrolls Democrats, gets immigration bill out of committee

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee pushed through a Republican-backed asylum reform bill on a party-line vote last Thursday over the strident objections of Democrats, who were blocked from offering amendments to it.

The Secure and Protect Act of 2019 would force migrants to apply for asylum at new facilities outside the U.S., increase the number of days immigrant children can be held in detention and add 500 new immigration judges, among other changes.

Democrats blasted Sen. Lindsey Graham, the committee chairman, whom they accused of breaking committee and Senate rules when he ignored more than 100 proposed amendments to the bill, leaving the panel as what one called little more than a “Donald Trump Committee.”

“If the majority can decide any given moment to ignore the committee’s rules, precedents and principles, then this committee is nothing but a conveyor belt of ultrapartisan ideas under the thumb and control of Donald Trump,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, dramatically ripping up a copy of the committee’s rules.

But Graham said he had already held the bill for almost two months in hopes of working with Democrats, who last week stayed away from a committee hearing in order to prevent a vote on the bill. The South Carolina Republican said he would not let Judiciary become a “dead-end committee” and, pointing to the crisis at the border, he said now is the “time for us to move forward and get this bill out of committee.”

“The problem is getting to be unmanageable,” Graham said of the situation at the border. “We are all concerned about the humanitarian conditions, that’s why we supported a $4 billion appropriation to supply better housing. But we have done nothing to stop the flow, until today.”

The vote came as the Senate prepared to leave town Friday and join the House on recess for the month of August.

Apprehensions of immigrants at the southern border are at the highest level in more than a decade. Customs and Border Protection officials reported taking in more than 780,000 migrants through June, putting the agency on pace to apprehend more than 1 million by the end of fiscal 2019 on Sept. 30.

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Unlike in previous years, many of the immigrants are families with children and the majority are coming from Central America – making them much more difficult to care for and to repatriate to their home countries than migrants stopped in previous years.

The numbers have overwhelmed the government’s ability to process and care for immigrants, leading to news reports and inspector general audits that find overcrowding, overworked employees, unsanitary and unsafe conditions.

Graham noted that immigration courts currently have a backlog of 900,000 cases, meaning that migrants are often released into the U.S. with an order to appear in court on a date that is likely years down the road.

He said Homeland Security officials have told him that his bill could stop 70 to 90% of the flow of migrants from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

One key to the bill is its reform of the Flores decision, a court settlement that says immigrant children can be held for no more than 20 days. Graham’s bill would allow minors traveling with their families to be held for up to 100 days, and expedite removal proceedings of families with a goal of settling their cases within those 100 days.

Because the government no longer separates families, critics say the effect of Flores has been to release the entire family within 20 days, which has opened the door to abuse of the system.

“These rules and the way they are abused, without the necessary reforms that we’re proposing, end up facilitating truly heinous acts of human trafficking and smuggling,” said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who cited reports that some migrants are using children merely to get in to the U.S.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said at the hearing that Graham’s bill “would be a setback for families and children seeking asylum for our … system of providing protection to the persecuted.”

“It would make a bad situation far worse,” Feinstein said. “If the Statue of Liberty could weep, she would.”

Chris Allbritton, director of communications at Refugees International, said the bill as drafted would violate the Refugee Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, among others.

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“The bill severely curtails protections for vulnerable children and imposes substantial barriers to asylum seekers,” Allbritton said, noting that it also “calls for indefinite family detention in unlicensed facilities and makes it impossible for asylum seekers to qualify for other forms of relief.”

But RJ Hauman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for reduced immigration, called the bill “a step in the right direction” and said that Graham was right to resist attempts to amend it.

“Trading a handful of reforms for any amnesty will undermine the bill’s very purpose by encouraging further illegal immigration and making a mockery of our immigration system,” said Hauman, FAIR’s government relations director, in a statement Thursday.

Committee Democrats disagreed strenuously. Feinstein, who has served on Judiciary for 26 years, said the committee was “breaking and violating its own rules” with Thursday’s action.

“Why even have rules if they can be broken whenever it’s expedient to do so or whenever it suits the will of the majority or the chairman?” she asked.

But Graham insisted he was within the rules and, pointing to Democrats’ refusal to show up for last week’s hearing, said he something needed to be done.

“The rules are still the rules, but the rules only work if we work together in a reasonable fashion,” he said.

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2 comments on this story

Aug 5, 2019, 4:55 pm
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The current migration at our border is costing taxpayers a Kings ransom ($17,000 per day ABC news.) Fleeing persecution? or fleeing for freebies? they sure don’t stay in Mexico when they reach “safety” or ask or offered political asylum in Mexico. Why? because Mexico will give them NOTHING. So they make the long journey to our border, our generous Democrats, and our tax dollars.

We have Democrat / Socialist / Activists in the Northern Triangle of South America & Mexico; even as you read this instructing the populations to make sure you bring your children and use the the magic words…..“credible fear.” Mexico recently arrested two socialist activists who were instrumental in the organizing of prior caravans,

Then you have a Democrat House saying the crisis is “manufactured” as literally thousands attack our border daily? The crisis IS manufactured…by the Democrats themselves. Make no mistake about this, Democrats want this to happen and never stop. They will with hold border security support allowing as many illegal aliens to enter the country as possible overwhelming our BP & ICE before assisting in border security (if ever.)

To Democrats/Socialists programs like Temporary Protective Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA) are permanent programs. There is nothing “temporary or deferred” about these programs to Democrats. These programs are designed to admit refugees (usually from the third world) then Democrats fight to keep them here permanently using the charge of racism, religion, guilt, against anyone opposed. Simple formula works great.

Just a few examples of the more outrageous costs associated with illegal immigration, we will pass this burden on to our children & grand children as has been passed on to us.

* City emergency services Taxpayer pay for every police, fire, paramedic service call for illegal aliens in their city. Taxpayers also pay for all hospital, emergency room treatments, ambulances, medications.. Hospital wait times for citizens are negatively impacted.

*Cost of educating illegal aliens is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers on average $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This does not include the millions spent on bilingual ED, instructors, special need children & day care. It is estimated nearly 100,000 illegal aliens graduate each year…...you do the math.  School class size are also negatively impacted by illegal aliens and our students suffer as a result.

*Taxpayers in some states are funding “in state college tuition” discounts for illegal aliens. (AZ voted to terminate this taxpayer expense.) Cost to taxpayers over a billion dollars annually.

*About one in five inmates in federal prison are foreign-born, & more than 90% of those are in the U.S illegally. This does not include local jails and state prisons. At roughly $24,000 per year expense per inmate.

*$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate, process Illegal aliens in the criminal justice system.

*$2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, & taxpayer funded school lunches.

*Mexico received 33 billion last year in remittance from our country. $120 billion total was sent out of the United States in total remittance last year.

*Every child birth by illegal aliens in the U.S is paid for with tax dollars.In the US, the average cost to have a baby without complications during delivery, is $10,808, which can increase to $30,000 when factoring in care provided before and after pregnancy (July 9, 2018 google.)

* Section 8 housing. Illegal aliens take full advantage of this program. Citizens & their families in poverty in many cases wait years behind non citizens for emergency housing.

Aug 5, 2019, 4:53 pm
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Democrat 2020 Platform & Goals:
-Open Borders.
-Sanctuary Cities.
-Decriminalize illegal entry into our country.
-De-fund & terminate Border Patrol & ICE
—Same sex marriages.
-Disarming Americans.
-End all deportations of illegal aliens (if you get here, you stay.)
-Voting rights for illegal aliens.
-Pack the courts with radical liberal judges (Like the 9th circuit)
-Increase refugee’s from the third world.
-Illegal aliens allowed to hold public office.
-Free Abortions for all (Taxpayer funded)
-The green new deal.
-End of Electoral College
-Free Medicare care for all including non citizens (taxpayer funded)
-Raise Minimum Wage (expect massive reduction in full time jobs & loss of health benefits)
-Adolescents vote.
-!00% free college for all, including non citizens. (tax payer funded) -Reparations for every race “harmed” by the white man.
-Convicts, Terrorists voting.
-Susie & Bobby using the same restrooms.
-Late term abortions up to 9 months.
-Tax increases.
-Pay check for every person in the US even if they choose not to work.

*Sources: Straight from the Democrat’s themselves. View their speeches / debates on you tube. Pay particular attention to when the moderator asks the candidates to “raise your hand” if in favor questions.

The choice is yours.

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Miranda Faulkner/Cronkite News

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, accused Democrats of stalling on a bill to address the crisis at the border, but Democrats said the bill being pushed by Republicans would do more harm than good and would not get through the House.