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Lankford Challenges Partisan Push of Border Bill, Urges Washington to Fix National Security Crisis

CLICK HERE to view the floor speech on YouTube.

CLICK HERE to view the floor speech on Rumble. 

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) delivered a floor speech challenging Senate Democrats’ partisan push to bring the border security package to the Senate floor for a vote that is expected to fail. Lankford called attention to the growing national security crisis amid the 1,624,790 million illegal crossings in 2024 and urged his colleagues to prioritize securing the border instead of pushing political messaging.

Lankford serves as lead Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, and he pushed back on President Biden for his sudden attempt to change the narrative on the border just six months before an election. Lankford delivered a floor speech when Democrats announced plans to vote on the border package again and to call out President Biden’s refusal to use executive authority to address the national security crisis he created at the US-Mexico border.


1,624,790 people have illegally crossed our southwest border. 1,624,790 so far we have at least 1.6 million people that have also been designated Got-aways in the last three years—that is they crossed our Southwest border and the Border Patrol could see them but they couldn’t get to them. Let me give you some context on that, as this body knows this well because we’ve talked about it over and over and over again in the first three years of this Administration. We’ve had more illegal crossings on our southwest border than the previous 12 years combined. More in the last three years than we had in the previous 12 years combined. If you want to just drill down—one year under President Biden has as many illegal crossings as we had under four years of President Trump.

Yesterday, we had more than 5,000 people illegally cross our southwest border, yesterday. That has been true every day, I believe, but three in the last three months that we’ve had more than 5,000 people a day. Now, the national news media has looked away from the southwest border, but those that live on the southwest border can’t look away. They’re still facing it every single day and in cities and communities across the entire country it is still happening every single day. Day after day as this President has looked away from what’s happening on our southern border. As I’ve said to this Department of Homeland Security multiple times, if they would enforce the border the same as President Obama enforced the border, we would be in a very different place. But they don’t enforce the border like President Trump did, and they don’t enforce it like President Obama did. They just failed to enforce it. The same law existed under President Obama when we had less than half-a-million people crossing illegally in a year that exists under President Biden where we’ve had 1.6 million people so far this year with still quite a few months to go. The same law, the same capacity to be able to enforce the border, but this President has said over and over again he has nothing that he can do until something is passed.

I’ve been very clear with this body, and I’ve been very honest with my own party and with my friends on the other side of the aisle. Congress has a job to do, we need to clarify what asylum means we need to add the funds that are needed. We need to speed up the process. We need to take away the forever appeals that are built into it that incentivize people coming and gaming the system. That is Congress’ job. We should do that and I have worked with everyone who is willing to work on that to get us to a place where we can get to 60 votes in this body to pass something to do our job. One party cannot resolve this issue. This has to be both parties sitting down and working on it together. That’s the rule of 60 in this body, but the President also has things that he could do that he has chosen not to do. In fact, this President has taken 94 executive orders to weaken border security. He’s created new parole authorities no president has ever used before to facilitate faster movement into the country.

So, instead of actually slowing the process down he’s actually sped it up and they’ve done so intentionally in the past few weeks. Department of Homeland Security has released a new memo and a new regulatory action that they’re getting feedback for. They have admitted to me that will increase screening for, in their words, a handful of additional people, a handful. Yesterday, we had 5,000 people illegally cross, but currently, right now, Homeland Security is saying they don’t have enough money to hire more agents. They’re spending millions of dollars rebranding Homeland Security investigation, HHS. They’re re-branding them and changing some of their focus on it.

Now, we’ve yet to be able to find out how much they’re spending on it, but we do understand it’s in the millions. At the same time, they’re saying they don’t have enough money to be able to handle greater enforcement. This Administration is focused on the things that don’t make a difference, when we need them to focus on the things that do. This body is also focused on on the things that are not making a difference on this.

Several of us sat down for months to be able to hash out, in a bipartisan way, how do we solve this? We felt we had a solution that could pass. We did not. Now that same option that everyone in this whole Body knows won’t pass is now coming back to this body again exactly as it was and many of us, including myself that actually worked on the original language, is saying “why?” This is not about trying to pass something; this is about a show vote, in this body, to show look we tried to vote on something and those “mean” Republicans blocked it. Well I have to tell you this vote when it comes up on Thursday, because that’s when I understand it’s coming, I’ll be interested in how many Democrats vote for this as well. Because I’ve already heard quite a few Democrats say I’m not sure I really want to vote for that if it doesn’t have Ukraine, if it doesn’t have Israel funding in it, because originally it was border security, Ukraine, Israel funding. And so some of my Democratic colleagues were voting for it, but now that it has none of those things several of them have said to me I’m not sure I want to vote for that without the other portions of it in there. Several Republicans are saying the same thing they said before, “hey I wanted even more in that bill. I know there was a lot of good things in it, but I wanted even more in it.” So they’re not willing to vote for it until it has even more.

So what would be the logical thing that should be done in this body? The logical thing would to say that vote failed so what would pass. You see we can play the same game because Democrats have blocked the bill from Senator Scott that would fund border security and enforcement of immigration laws in a different level, but Democrats blocked that vote. When [Senator] Marco Rubio and Senator Graham brought bills to enforce the Remain in Mexico Program that President Biden’s walked away from, Democrats blocked that vote. When Senator Cotton brought up a vote to stop aid for sanctuary cities that incentivize more people coming into the country and disappear, Democrats blocked that vote. When Senator Grassley brought up a bill to deport criminal illegal aliens, Democrats blocked that bill. When Senator Hagerty brought up a bill to deal with increasing funding for ICE and deport more criminal aliens that have already been designated criminal aliens in the United States, Democrats blocked that bill. When I brought up a bill to be able to implement and fund the Title 42 Authority and to extend that, Democrats blocked that bill. When Senator Marshall brought a bill to bring up HR2 and Senator Cruz brought up the bill for HR2, the House bill that has a broad spectrum for border enforcement, Democrats blocked that bill. When Senator Hagerty again brought up a bill to ban federal funds from being used to fly illegal aliens from other countries and to be able to give them Parole Authority into our country, Democrats blocked that bill. When Republican Senator Budd brought up the protecting the Laken Riley Act, Democrats blocked that bill. When I brought up a bill dealing with Special Interest Aliens—those the Department of Homeland Security designated as a potential national security risk—when I brought up a bill to say all those folks could not be released into the country they had to be detained if they were declared a national security risk, Democrats blocked that bill.

Democrats blocked that bill. We could play this game all day long. Somehow this belief that if we bring up a bill that has failed before, that’s somehow a strong movement to be able to solve the issue, [it] doesn’t. It plays a political game and we all know it. So what should we do? Actually be grown-ups. Sit down and actually try to figure out what we can pass—rather than bringing things up that we all know won’t pass.

Now I don’t know if there’s a belief that somehow on Memorial Day week that Americans across the country can’t wait for the Senate to vote again on a bill that’s already failed before that could come up again as if something’s going to be different. I have a message to all of my colleagues: the people of America are not on Memorial Day week focused on what the Senate is doing this week. They’re just not. They’re thinking about their family member that was lost defending the country, or they’re thinking about a sale at an appliance store. They’re not thinking about this and this drama.

We should take seriously, though, the national security risk that all of us know about and do something about it. Just as a side note that all of us know full well, the number of people designated by this Administration as Special Interest Aliens—those that are a national security risk by definition that are coming across our border and being released into the country—is in the thousands. We all know it. We should take that seriously.

If we want to just deal with the people that are on the higher list that are on the terror watch list, if I go back to let’s say 2017, there were two people that were apprehended on the terror watch list in 2017. There were six people apprehended in 2018. There were three people in 2019. But if I take that to this past year, 2023, there were 172. We have people crossing our border that we know are a national security risk while we’re playing political messaging games here. Let’s sit down and solve this. Let’s not just vote on things that we know are going to fail. Let’s not just do political messaging. Let’s actually sit down and solve this.

Over the past two years something has shifted on our southern border. It’s not just people from the Western hemisphere that are crossing illegally—it’s from people from all over the world. We went from having a handful of Chinese citizens that crossed the border to last year and this year tens of thousands of Chinese nationals crossing our border. When I asked DHS, ‘are any of these Chinese Nationals being deported?’ They responded, to me ‘Yes, we have started deporting Chinese nationals that are here illegally.’ And I said, ‘Terrific, how many?’ Their response—’14, so far.’ Fourteen of the tens of thousands that have crossed in the last two years—we’ve deported 14 Chinese nationals.

Can I tell you in Oklahoma, there are thousands of Chinese nationals that have come into my state that are working in illegal marijuana operations. Our Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has done a tremendous job of trying to be able to shut down all these illegal grow operations but they continue to spring up. And over and over again when they do a bust, it’s Chinese nationals working individuals that were trafficked over our southern border and individuals that are in our country illegally present. Over and over and over again. We know this is going on. We know we have a terror risk. We all see it. We know there are individuals by the thousands being released that are declared by this Administration as Special Interest Aliens. We understand full well criminal activities that are happening, and we are doing messaging bills that everyone knows will fail.

Why don’t we sit down and actually talk about it and work it out? Why don’t we figure out how to solve this? That’s what the American people expect us to do. My friends in Oklahoma look at me and say, ‘You guys go figure this out.’ Because they feel the problem is there, and what they feel is correct. Let’s sit down and figure this out. With that, I yield the floor.