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Lankford Discusses Continued Frustration of the Lack of Border Security and the National Security Threat it Poses to Americans

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s Q&A on YouTube.

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s Q&A on Rumble.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) spoke on the Senate floor today to discuss the real national security risk at our US-Mexico Border as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to identify Special Interest Aliens (SIA) but cannot provide a number on how many SIAs are in the US. SIAs, as defined by DHS, “are a non-US person who, based on an analysis of travel patterns, potentially poses a national security right to the United States or its interests.” Lankford provided immediate actions that President Biden could take now to secure the border including reinstating the “Remain in Mexico” policy. 

In March, Lankford pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray during an unclassified, open Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on the ongoing national security crisis at the southern border. In response to Lankford’s question on SIAs, Director Wray stated, “I know that we work closely with DHS, especially CBP, on the issue of Special Interest Aliens, including a whole lot of work on the other side of the border to try to prevent them from coming in the first place, and I know there are instances where we are contacted, but I’m not sure that as I sit here right now I can tell you that we’re contacted in every instance.” 

Transcript

Next week we’re scheduled to begin a trial of the Secretary of Homeland Security. [It] [d]oesn’t begin a conversation about homeland security in our country. That conversation started years ago now. The American people are incredibly frustrated with what they’re seeing on the southern border, and they keep saying it over and over again. Remarkably so in a nation where inflation continues to be stubbornly high, where it’s harder and harder to afford a carton of eggs, gasoline, all the basics of life, in all the areas you would think the economy would be the number one issue in the nation, actually national security and border security ends up being number one, regardless of what state you live in. This is no longer a border-state issue. Americans feel this is a problem. Well, they should.

In the past three years, more people illegally crossed our southern border than the previous 12 years combined, and it’s not close, the number. We’re approaching eight million people that have illegally crossed our southern border just in the last three years. Cities feel it. Americans feel it. School districts feel it. Communities feel it. Homeless shelters feel it. It continues to spiral into our country. This is not some accident of migration, as the Administration tries to say over and over again, that there’s global migration happening everywhere. This was a series of Executive Orders done in 2021 that were intentionally designed to change what’s happening at our southern border, and they certainly have. Decisions were made in 2021 by the Biden Administration to be able to shift multiple things, starting with loosening enforcement.

Day one of the Biden Administration, stop any construction of the wall and announce it publicly that we’re no longer doing wall construction, not even repair.

Step two, dramatically loosen the actual enforcement so fewer people would be deported when they came, so if you cross the border illegally, it’s much greater likelihood that once you get across you will not be deported. 

Third, they change the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. That simple policy to say yes, you can request asylum, but you can’t just be released in the country. They shifted it from remain at the border, or Mexico, rather than being in detention you could be released anywhere in the country on your own recognizance and to go anywhere you want. That dramatically increased the number of people crossing. They also shifted where the State Department is no longer negotiating deals in Central America, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, to stop migrants moving through that direction, they have withdrawn those agreements, and the State Department stopped putting pressure on recalcitrant countries that would not take their people back. These were intentional actions. 

What I don’t think the Administration intended was how this has spiraled out of control. They sowed to the wind. The nation is reaping the whirlwind out of it. Almost 8 million people have illegally crossed our border. Now it’s no longer people from the western hemisphere. Literally, it’s people from all over the world. Pick up any tracking at any point to track what’s happening, you will find thousands of people crossing from China, Russia, Pakistan, West Africa, from all over Asia. 

When I talk to people at the border, and I do talk often to them, one of the first things I ask is what are the trends? What are you seeing? For the past year and a half, they tell me a greater number of non-Spanish speakers, males in their 20’s from all over the world. Just in the past year, we picked up individuals that are Al-Shabaab terrorist connections, all kinds of different connections to different terrorist organizations, and we have been able to pick up some, but some have gotten through or been released. This is an issue I continue to bring up, that this Administration is not managing. In the past year, there were over 70,000 individuals identified in what was defined as a Special Interest Alien. They crossed our border and were designated as a Special Interest Alien and released on their own recognizance into the country.

A Special Interest Alien, this is their definition, a non-US person who is based on the analysis of travel patterns, potentially poses a national security threat to the United States or its interests. 70,000 of those in the past year have crossed the border and have been released into the United States. This is no longer a simple migration issue. This is a national security issue. And it’s one this Administration has not only invited but they’ve now chosen to not even take seriously. 

This body knows full well. I believe there are some things that can only be done by acts of this body. Changing the definition of asylum, increasing the number of detention beds. There’s multiple issues that we need to do, and we should take responsibility for. But this body should not sit and say nothing can be done when the White House has authorities they’re not using. We should do our job. The White House should do their job. And currently that’s not happening. And the threat continues to increase.

So next week we start an impeachment trial which has never happened in the history of the Department of Homeland Security, to be able to have an impeachment of the Secretary. That starts. But can I say to you, even if the Secretary is removed, the White House has still created this policy. The Obama Administration had multiple leaders in that role, but they had one policy. The Trump Administration had multiple leaders in that role. They had one policy. This White House has a policy of maintaining an open border. And until this White House changes that policy and actually uses the authority that they already have, none of this is going to change.

So my challenge is to us, we should do our job and work on the issues we should do, but this White House needs to step up because right now they’re just hoping that none of those 70,000 people they defined as a national security risk actually does an act of terrorism or crime in the country. I don’t want to just hope that someone we’ve defined as a national security risk doesn’t actually carry it out. I think we need to actually enforce the law. I think we need to discourage illegal immigration. And I think we need to actually have a secure border. And I don’t believe I’m alone in that in this body or in our great country.

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