SC Senate policy stakes: Graham backs Trump immigration approach, Harrison urges ‘decency’

COLUMBIA — After a lull at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, illegal crossings at the southern U.S. border have begun rising again in recent months, resurrecting an issue that has bedeviled congressional negotiators for many years.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has often been at the center of those negotiations, offering a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in exchange for stronger border security measures — a compromise that drew harsh criticism from some conservatives.

Since becoming a close ally of President Donald Trump, Graham has toughened his rhetoric on illegal immigration at times, prompting Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison to accuse the Republican incumbent of “playing towards our greatest fears.”

This is the fourth installment of an eight-part series in The Post and Courier leading up to the election that will lay out the policy views of Graham and Harrison on issues that matter most to South Carolina voters.

The responses to this candidate questionnaire have been edited and condensed for space and clarity.

Do you support a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.?

Graham: I have been involved in every bipartisan effort to fix a broken immigration system since 2006. I support a pathway to citizenship for non-felon illegal immigrants while we simultaneously secure our border, address the root causes of illegal immigration and modernize our legal immigration system. A pathway to citizenship must be earned, not given. An individual should have to pass an English proficiency exam, undergo background and national security screenings, pay a fine for the law that was broken, file tax returns, and get in the back of the line from the country of origin so you do not gain an unfair advantage over those who have done it legally. I expect a secure border, E-verify to stop hiring of illegal immigrants, and modernized legal immigration in return for a pathway to citizenship.

By Jamie Lovegrove for The Post and Courier
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