Dec 13 2007

Washington – Smuggling illegal aliens across the U.S. border would become a felony offense punishable by five years in prison – per victim – under legislation introduced today by Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Under current law, alien smuggling is a misdemeanor.

Each year, between 700,000 to 800,000 people enter the United States illegally, according to the Pew Research Center. A large number of these illegal crossings are organized by criminal smugglers, yet this year there have been only 2,661 prosecutions under the federal alien smuggling statute.

The Alien Smuggling and Terrorism Prevention Law Enforcement Act of 2007 (S. 2463) amends the current alien smuggling statute to make it a felony offense to smuggle, recruit, transport or harbor illegal aliens.

The Bayh-Graham legislation includes even stiffer maximum penalties for those who smuggle for financial gain (10 years); for repeat offenders (15 years); for cases involving physical assault (20 years); terrorism facilitation (30 years) and kidnapping, rape or attempted murder (life).

“Alien smuggling is a transnational crime problem that poses a significant risk to national security and public safety,” Senator Bayh said. “Those who break our immigration laws for financial gain deserve more than a slap on the wrist. This legislation sends a message to U.S. attorneys that we want these offenders federally prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law.”

“This is an area of immigration reform where the Congress can come together and find common ground,” Senator Graham said. “I don’t think there’s any question the existing penalties for alien smuggling are insufficient. Our legislation will give prosecutors and law enforcement stronger tools to crack down on the terrible trade in human cargo. It will also create a deterrent effect for smuggling people into the United States, particularly for those doing it for profit. The legislation passed the House in an overwhelming fashion. I’m hopeful we can get it to the president’s desk in short order.”

It is estimated that the international alien smuggling and sex trafficking trade generates $9.5 billion for criminal organizations worldwide, and the profits are used to finance additional criminal enterprises, such as the trafficking of drugs, weapons or other contraband. Smugglers endanger the safety and lives of those who are seeking to enter our country by subjecting them to physical abuse, rape and subjected to deplorable and dangerous conditions by their smugglers.

A companion version of the alien smuggling legislation authored by Congressman Baron Hill (D-IN) passed the House of Representatives in May by a vote of 412-0.

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Dec 05 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. U.S. in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Earlier today Graham attended the Supreme Court oral arguments on these cases where lawyers for the detainees challenging their detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba argued their case. 

Graham played a key role in drafting the Military Commissions Act and authored a provision which denies detainees unfettered access to sue in federal court.

He said:

“I’m cautiously optimistic the Supreme Court will not strike down the Military Commissions Act and allow Al Qaeda members the unprecedented right to bring lawsuits in our federal court system.

“Never in the history of warfare have enemy prisoners been able to bring lawsuits challenging their detention.  Thousands of Germans and Japanese soldiers were captured and held by the military during World War II.  Not one case was allowed in federal court where they were allowed to sue for their release. 

“I’m hopeful the Court will understand the Congress has spoken loud and clear on this matter.  Before the MCA was signed into law, enemy combatants were filing frivolous suits requesting better mail delivery, more exercise, judge-supervised interrogation, Internet access, the right to view DVDs and alleging medical malpractice.

“It would be a monumental mistake for the Supreme Court to give enemy combatants – members of Al Qaeda -- the same legal rights as a U.S. citizen.  I hope the Court does not go down that road.”

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Dec 04 2007

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has introduced legislation strengthening the rights of parents in the education of their children.

“The rights of parents are under assault from school districts, teachers unions, and activist judges,” said Graham.  “Parental rights do not and should not end at the schoolhouse door.”

In November 2005, a group of California parents brought suit against their school district for not being fully informed about a questionnaire given to their children containing strong sexual and violent content. 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the parents claiming their rights do not, “extend beyond the threshold of the school door.”  The court also stated that once parents choose to enroll their children in a particular educational program, they have no right to determine what information their children are exposed to at school, nor do they have the right to be the sole provider of sexual information to their children

The Parents’ Rights Empowerment and Protection Act (PREP) seeks to address the problems with the Court’s ruling.  The legislation:

  • requires any educational institution receiving federal funds to obtain the affirmative, informed, written consent of the parent before requesting or conveying information to the child on matters related to sex or sexuality;
  • creates a private right of action for parents if an educational institution violates the required consent provisions;
  • temporarily cuts off federal funds for schools found to be in violation of this statute; and
    reaffirms parents are primarily responsible for the care, health, and education of their children.

“It is unfortunate that this legislation is needed, but without it there is no way to correct an egregious court decision by the Ninth Circuit,” said Graham.  “Eliminating parental input regarding public school decisions is a disaster for public schools.  The last thing we need to do is to alienate or destroy parental involvement in public education.”

U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), and James Inhofe (R-OK) have signed on as co-sponsors.  The American Center for Law and Justice, Eagle Forum and Family Research Council have expressed support for the legislation.

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Nov 29 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the death of former Illinois Representative Henry Hyde.

“I admired Henry Hyde as much as anyone I have ever served with in the Congress.  His death is both a personal loss and a real loss for the country.  

“In the effort to protect the unborn, there was no better advocate than Henry Hyde.  The Hyde Amendment, which essentially banned federal funding of abortions, remains the gold standard of the pro-life movement.  

“As most people know, my association with Henry came to a head during the impeachment of former President Clinton.  Henry was the leader of the House Managers presenting the case to the Senate.  I will always remember his understanding of the Constitution and the steady, sound leadership he provided.  Henry Hyde truly was a legendary figure in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

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Nov 29 2007

Graham Statement on US-Chinese WTO Agreement:

“I was pleased by Ambassador Schwab’s announcement today regarding China’s decision to end illegal subsidies challenged by the United States before the WTO.  Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction and is good news for the global economy.  Ambassador Schwab is an effective United States Trade Representative who aggressively pursues fairness for American businesses. 

"While I applaud the Chinese government’s decision in this matter, much difficult work lies ahead in addressing the concerns the United States has with China ’s trade policies.  I hope today’s announcement is the beginning of movement by the Chinese on currency and intellectual property rights."

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Nov 16 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted against a Democratic plan to begin troop withdrawals from Iraq.  The plan, which called for all American troops to be out of Iraq by December 15, 2008, had already passed the House of Representatives.

He made this statement:

“Some people seem intent on taking one of the most successful counter-insurgency military operations in American history – the Surge – and undercutting it by the acts of one of the most dysfunctional Congresses in American history.

“We cannot deny funding to our troops in the field and we cannot replace the judgment of our military commanders with a dysfunctional Congress being led around by the nose by groups like Code Pink and Moveon.org.  They refuse to acknowledge success.  All they see is the next election and the potential for their next TV ad.
 
“We must not send a message to our enemies that we’re prepared to let them get off the mat and back into the fight.  This was a ridiculous proposal which undercuts our national security interests.  I’m proud to have been part of the effort to defeat this ill-advised measure.”

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Nov 15 2007

WASHINGTON-  U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today called on Senate Democrat leaders to pass troop and veterans funding legislation that can be signed into law.

Graham was joined at a press conference by a representative from Vets for Freedom and a group of Senators including Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and Richard Burr of North Carolina.

Graham said:

“I am extremely disappointed the Democrat-controlled Congress cannot appreciate that the surge has been one the most effective military operations in American history.

“We owe it to our troops and our own national security interests to continue to support their historic efforts.  Instead, some seem intent on pulling the rug out from under their feet by failing to fund our troops while they are on the battlefield.

“The strings attached to the House bill put in jeopardy the gains we have made.  It also sends the wrong message to a diminished enemy.”

The Senate has yet to vote on the bridge funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Conference Report.

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Nov 13 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he has received a reply to his request from the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Zhou Wenzhong, making clear that China will not ban the Bible from the Olympic Village.

“It remains unknown what the concocters of this fabrication are driving at,” wrote Ambassador Zhou in a letter to Graham.  “But they have caused some negative impacts. The Beijing Olympic Games is a major event for both China and the world.  I hope these people will stop doing harms to the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese people and the people of the world.”

Media reports in Europe and the United States have suggested China was seeking to ban Bibles from the Olympic Village at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. 

“I was very pleased to receive this communication from the Chinese Ambassador making it clear there will not be a ban on Bibles at the Olympic Village,” said Graham.  “As with everything from communist China it is my position we verify, verify, verify and then trust.  I’m pleased to have this in writing and hopefully this will clear up any and all confusion on this matter.”
 
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Nov 13 2007

WASHINGTON -- South Carolina Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint today introduced a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment in the U.S. Senate.  If ratified, the amendment would not allow the federal government to spend more money than it collects each year.  In limited circumstances, such as during a time of war, Congress can waive the balanced budget requirement with a two-thirds majority.  The amendment also would make it more difficult for Congress to increase the burden on the taxpayer by requiring a two-thirds majority vote to raise taxes.

“A balanced budget constitutional amendment provides the best hope of regaining and maintaining fiscal sanity,” said Graham, a long-time supporter of the BBA.  “The urge to spend is powerful.  In my years in the Congress I’ve seen first-hand how both parties behave when in control of the federal purse.  Neither side seems capable of being a good, long-term steward of the taxpayer dollar.”
 
"Tax cuts have fueled our economy and led to a surge in tax revenue, but even with those cuts American's tax burden is above historic averages,” said DeMint.  “Washington isn't taxing too little, its simply spending too much. It's time to pass a balanced budget amendment to force a stop to wasteful overspending."

“Americans in their private and business lives are faced with the consequences of deficits,” said Graham.  “Congress, on the other hand, can ignore those kinds of rules.  Senator DeMint, who has been a great steward of the taxpayer dollar, understands this dynamic.  We must get the nation’s fiscal house back in order and the BBA is an institutional reform that will serve us well.”

"Every family in South Carolina knows spending more than you make is the fastest way to financial disaster,” said DeMint.  “Yet, Congress continues to increase our debt by billions each year leaving a mess for our children and grandchildren to clean up. Lindsey and I have fought for years to keep taxes and spending low, but we must enact true reform if we are ever to see real change in Washington. I encourage my colleagues to support the balanced budget amendment so we can bring some fiscal sanity back to the federal budget."

In order to become law, the amendment must be passed by two-thirds of both the House of Representative and the Senate, and then be ratified by two-thirds of the states.  A decade ago, a similar version of the BBA passed the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate by a single vote.
 
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Nov 09 2007

WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today sent the following letter to newly confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

The text of the letter read:  

We are pleased that the Senate voted to confirm you last night as Attorney General of the United States.  As you take office, we strongly urge you to immediately receive briefings on the CIA interrogation program and to publicly declare that the technique known as “waterboarding” is illegal.

We appreciate your acknowledgement that waterboarding is “over the line” and “repugnant.”  As we have previously noted, waterboarding, under any circumstances, represents a clear violation of U.S. law.  In 2005, the President signed into law the so-called “McCain Amendment,” a prohibition on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment as those terms are understood under the standards of the U.S. Constitution.  We expressed then our strong belief that a fair reading of this legislation outlaws waterboarding and other extreme techniques. 

Whether or not the Administration took a contrary view, it is incontestable that such techniques are outlawed by the 2006 Military Commissions Act.  Indeed, during the negotiations that led to the MCA, we were personally assured by Administration officials that waterboarding was prohibited under the new law. 

We expect that you will reach the same conclusion.  Given your recognition that the President cannot waive congressionally mandated restrictions on interrogation techniques, it is vital that you publicly declare waterboarding illegal.  By doing so, our nation can finally put this issue behind us.

We must do so.  We support a robust offensive to wage and prevail in the war on terror.  But as we confront those committed to our destruction, it is vital that we never forget that we are, first and foremost, Americans.  The laws and values that have built our nation are a source of strength, not weakness, and we will win the war on terror not in spite of devotion to our cherished values, but because we have held fast to them.   

Congratulations on your confirmation as Attorney General.  The scenarios you previously described as hypothetical are no longer so, and you now have the benefit of full access to classified programs and memoranda.  We urge you to acquaint yourself immediately with these matters and take the opportunity to make clear that waterboarding is illegal and can never be employed.  We look forward to working with you and the Department on this and other matters. 

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