May 23 2007

Graham Amendment Institutes Mandatory Prison Sentences for Illegal Aliens Who Re-enter the U.S.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced an amendment to the Senate immigration bill which institutes mandatory minimum prison sentences for illegal immigrants who cross our nations' borders.


The Department of Homeland Security estimates that between 20 and 30 percent of all of the illegal immigrants physically removed from the United States try to return. In 2004, 169,000 illegal immigrants were removed and nearly 65,000 returned. In 2006, there were 195,000 removals and 37,000 returns.

"One of the biggest flaws in our current immigration system is that repeated, illegal border crossings are not considered criminal events," said Graham. "The Graham amendment requires mandatory jail time for those who continue to violate our border. This is a major, long overdue and much-needed change in our immigration policies."

Illegal aliens deported from the United States who return will face stiff penalties.

  • The first reentry offense is a mandatory minimum of 60 days to a maximum of 1 year in jail before again being deported.


  • The second offense is a minimum of 60 days to a maximum of 2 years in jail before again being deported.


  • For the third and subsequent offenses, the illegal alien would serve at least 2 years to a maximum of 10 years in prison before being deported again.

"The amendment will allow our Border Patrol agents and courts to forcefully deal with illegal reentry," said Graham. "After 9-11, we must show the world we are serious and have the national will to impose prison sentences on those who illegally enter our country."

Graham noted the amendment contains even stiffer penalties for illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes, served their time, been deported, and then reentered the United States.

  • An illegal alien who has spent 5 years in prison or an illegal alien with 3 or more felonies would serve a minimum of 4 years to a maximum of 20 for illegal reentry.


  • An illegal alien convicted of a violent crime such as murder, rape, or terrorism would serve a minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 20 years for illegal reentry.

"There have been thousands of illegal immigrants prosecuted for serious crimes, served their time in jail, been deported and then illegally returned," said Graham. "We are serious about the violations of our immigration laws and this amendment helps makes clear protection of the border is the first order of business in immigration reform."