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Chaos, Cartels, and Chinese Nationals at Our Southern Border

By: By Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

Our southern border remains in chaos and in the grips of the cartels because the Biden Administration’s goal for border security is to let more people into the country faster—not to actually secure our border and keep us safe. 

A day after Biden’s three-hour choreographed trip to El Paso, I joined a bipartisan group of Senators on a deep dive on the real issues at our border. During our time in Texas and Arizona, we were briefed by the DEA, FBI, Border Patrol, local law enforcement, and community leaders. Late one night, I watched two Chinese nationals be apprehended by mounted Border Patrol as they attempted to sneak across our border. I continue to remind people that it’s not just job-seeking migrants illegally crossing our border.

The Border Patrol are so overwhelmed processing people coming illegally that they have been forced to abandon the standard highway check points leading north into the country to check for drug smuggling. As deadly fentanyl is on the rise, drug searches are on the decline. That is a serious threat to our national security.

Here is an easy way to see how illegal immigration has changed in the past two years. In Yuma, Arizona, the Border Patrol encountered just over 8,000 people illegally crossing in 2020. In 2022, that number jumped to 310,000. The community leaders, local law enforcement, and Border Patrol agents begged us to do something to make it stop.  

There are practical ways to end this immigration crisis, rather than ignore it.  

First, clarify in law that a person seeking asylum in the US must have first requested and been denied asylum in countries closer to their home or that they traveled through. This is not a radical idea. In fact it’s already the law in our northern neighbor, Canada.

Second, we should not release people when they request asylum. We should hold their hearings at the border, and if they do not qualify, they shouldn’t be allowed to enter.

Catch and release has to stop. 

The communities on the border are crying out for help enforcing the law and ending the chaos. This is especially true since the people who benefit the most from our open border policies are the murderous cartels in Mexico who are making billions of dollars off our loose immigration policies. Why would American policy help the cartels and hurt our communities? As one Border Patrol agent said to me, “When will American policy help poor Americans?”

Now it’s time for the Biden Administration to address the problems they have caused at the border, enforce the law, finish the border wall, and allow the Border Patrol to do their job.