Lankford on Face the Nation Outlines Work to Secure the Border
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, joined CBS’ Face the Nation to discuss his ongoing work to secure the US-Mexico border, outline some of the provisions he has secured during negotiations, and respond to some of the internet rumors.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined by Oklahoma Republican James Lankford in Oklahoma City this morning. Good morning to you, sir. It has taken you two months to get this bipartisan deal. Do you have the support of your fellow republicans to actually vote this through?
LANKFORD: Well, actually, I wish it had only taken about two months, it’s taken four months. We’ve started in October. Everyone is looking to read the bill at this point. That’s the key aspect. We’re working on the final aspects of it to try to be able to get it out so everyone can read it. They’re all functioning off of internet rumors of what’s in the bill and many of them are false. People want to be able to see it, read it, go through it and see the dramatic change that this really makes and how we handle our immigration system and work to be able to secure our border completely. That’s been the simple request of Americans, whether you’re Republican, Democrat, or Independent, people want a secure border where we have legal immigration but not promoting illegal immigration and that’s what we’ve seen the last three years.
BRENNAN: You don’t have a vote count yet?
LANKFORD: Do not have a vote count yet on this because everybody has to be able to read it, but I feel positive about it because even the initial feedback has been good.
BRENNAN: So you just heard the details laid out by our immigration correspondent. How do you balance the shutdown power that would be in these new authorities versus the right to claim asylum?
LANKFORD: Yeah, this is similar to what we had under Title 42 during the pandemic to say we can’t really operate. We don’t have that authority right now as the United States. We’ve reached crisis points when we get 4, 5,000 crossing the border we can no longer process those individuals. The Biden Administration is just releasing them into the country. This is what’s driving the mayors in Denver and Chicago and New York City and other places around the country crazy to say when the border is crowded you release them to our cities and causes chaos in the cities. This is a new authority to say we can no longer detain and deport and can’t process the people and make a decision right there at the border we’ll turn those folks back around to Mexico and say we can no longer do this. That gives the authority to the United States and to law enforcement rather than the authorities of the criminal cartels. The cartels can rush our border and get through as many people as they want to get through. We cannot have criminal organizations running our southern border. We have to be able to run our southern border.
BRENNAN: So parole authority has been a sticking point for Republicans throughout. The Administration has used it in a novel way to resettle 1 million people. So how are you changing that authority?
LANKFORD: Yeah, humanitarian parole is still an issue for us, but it’s been an authority that every president has had to have basic humanitarian parole. As you mentioned this Administration has used humanitarian parole in a way no other Administration has. They’ve said if you’ll just tell us in advance you’re coming, come to a port of entry, the first day you get here we’ll hand you a work permit and release you into the country under parole. That’s actually attracting more people. Of course, people from around the world will want an American work permit to show up, so instead of deterring they’re incentivizing illegal immigration and handing people a parole and work permit day one. That has to stop. We can’t just have a system where we have that. In between the ports of entries when it gets crowded they’ll just release them under a parole authority there and they’re released into the country. We don’t know if they qualify for asylum or where they are by the hundreds of thousands people are being released into the country, and we have no tracking on them at all. That has to stop. This is a national security issue for us. And may I remind you we’ve had 50 people come across our border we’ve interdicted on the terror watch list just in the past four months. We’ve had tens of thousands of people that came across our border that were identified as a national security risk. Those individuals should not just be waved into the country.
BRENNAN: The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board called this the best chance in years to fix the asylum law and parole loophole, but Donald Trump who is the frontrunner to be your party’s nominee, in 2024, is telling Republicans not to support this. Here’s what he said last night in Las Vegas.
DONALD TRUMP (CLIP): A lot of the senators are trying to say respectfully blaming it on me. That’s okay. Blame it on me. Please, because they were getting ready to pass a very bad bill, and I’ll tell you what, a bad bill is I would rather have no bill than a bad bill.
BRENNAN: Can you get this passed without Donald Trump’s approval?
LANKFORD: I’m looking forward to President Trump having the opportunity to be able to read it like everybody else is. There’s a lot of misinformation out there right now that I hear this comment that it waves in 5,000 people, hands out work permits. All are not true. There’s a lot of internet rumors running around on this right now. We’re looking forward to getting the information out. I can say there is no question, no matter what your political persuasion is, we would not have had the immigration crisis we’re experiencing right now if President Trump would have been president the last three years and no way 8 million cross our border because you would enforce those different authorities and would have made sure we actually secure our border. But even while he was president, he was specifically asking Congress to change the standard on asylum to be able to tighten up and give additional funds for deportation. All of those things are in this bill. So if he were to be president, this would be new authorities that he asked for when he was president before.
BRENNAN: Right. I just want you just said that he has not read this bill. He doesn’t essentially know what he’s talking about in this deal.
LANKFORD: I’m not saying that. I’m saying there’s a lot of rumors out there about the bill, and I want to make sure everyone has a chance to read it before they make a final judgment.
BRENNAN: Right. The deal you just said would give any future president and the current one new authorities. So on the trail, Trump has vowed to block immigrants based on their beliefs, end birth right citizenship, carry out mass deportations, and he has not ruled out separating kids from their parents. Would you trust Donald Trump with these new authorities?
LANKFORD: I would, actually, because these are not only new authorities that have been asked for by multiple presidents, whether President Trump, President Obama, President Bush before that, this is a basic thing that we have to have for our national security. When we talk about asylum right now you cross the border and you literally say I have fear in my country, and you’re released into the united states and await a ten-year hearing. No one thinks that makes sense to have a 10-year backlog for saying the magic words I have fear in my country. We don’t know if they qualify. We don’t know their criminal record or anything. That absolutely has to change. That’s been an issue for a very long time. That changes this in law.