Lindsey Graham

Republican U.S. Senator from South Carolina | Member of Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration

During the Trump presidency, Lindsey Graham was one of Trump’s strongest supporters, but the Republican U.S. senator from South Carolina has largely remained steadfast in his diverging views on immigration reform, which include a willingness to consider a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants and his belief that immigrants play an important role in the American workforce.

“We’re gonna have a shortage of workers over time,” said Graham in a 2015 Republican presidential primary debate. “As to the 11 million [illegal immigrants here now], I want to talk about fixing the problem. We’re not going to deport 11 million people and their legal citizen children.”

A public office holder since 1993, when he became a one-term state representative in South Carolina before serving four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Graham won his fourth term representing South Carolina in the U.S. Senate in November 2020.

A longtime friend of Trump critic John McCain, Graham was slow to warm to former President Trump. But now he has even modified some of his views on immigration reform to better align with Trump: Graham now predicates any possible immigration reform on stronger border security, and while he has expressed sorrow regarding immigrants who have died migrating to the U.S., he stresses that anyone who crosses into the country illegally should face stiff penalties. In July of 2019, shortly after visiting two immigrant detention facilities in Texas, Graham told Fox News that, “I don’t care if they have to stay in these facilities for 400 days.”


Graham’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    A longtime proponent of tougher border security, Graham supported the Secure the Border Act of 2006 and predicates most immigration policy negotiations on more funding for border security.

  • Border Wall

    While acknowledging that a border wall will not “fix” U.S. immigration policy, Graham has been a consistent supporter of the border wall, supporting former President Trump’s use of emergency and military funding to build it.

  • Detention

    Graham’s Secure and Protect Act of 2019 has a provision that modifies U.S. law to allow families to be held in detention for up to 100 days. The current limit is 20 days, upon which the Trump administration based its “zero tolerance” or family-separation policy. Supporters of the bill saw the provision as a way to keep undocumented immigrants detained without having to separate families, or, as the Obama administration did, release the whole family on bond.

  • Immigration Courts

    Graham’s Secure and Protect Act of 2019 has a provision that would fund the hiring of 500 more immigration judges to speed up the processing of cases.

  • Undocumented Population

    Graham has supported — and co-sponsored — various iterations of the DREAM Act and supports a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding, undocumented immigrants who are already in the country.

  • ICE

    Graham supports the agency and Enforcement and Removal Operations (EROs) carried out by its agents. He has expressed the belief that EROs are focused exclusively on those who are staying in the country illegally after having already lost their immigration court cases.

  • DACA

    Graham supports citizenship for DACA enrollees in exchange for Border Wall funding.

  • Asylum

    Graham’s Secure and Protect Act of 2019 includes provisions that require migrants from the Northern Triangle to file for asylum at refugee processing centers outside the U.S.

  • Central America Policy

    Graham supports increasing the number of Central American immigrants allowed residency in the country in exchange for making them apply for asylum in their home countries. He supports continuing financial aid to the region.

  • Visas

    Graham has stated that he wants to fix the “broken visa system.” He supports increasing legal immigration to the U.S. to meet the country’s labor needs.

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