Lankford Offers Biden a Christmas Present to Stop the Chaos at the Southern Border, Keep Title 42

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on YouTube.

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on Rumble.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, today offered a Christmas gift to the Biden Administration by calling on the Senate to unanimously pass two bills to deal with border security and immigration so that Border Patrol can enforce the law at the southern border. One bill extends Title 42, and the other fixes the broken asylum process. Democrats blocked both bills from receiving unanimous consent.

Last week, Lankford took to the Senate floor to share that after eight months of not hearing from the Department of Homeland Security about their plan to prepare and respond to lifting Title 42 restrictions that it is evident that the agency has no plan in place for when Title 42 authority ends.

Lankford just this month sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calling out the major lack of transparency regarding the expected migrant surge following the termination of Title 42. In November 2022, Lankford questioned Secretary Mayorkas on the national security threats that have been caused by the lack of enforcement of US law at the border.

Following the release of another bombshell report on the chaos at the southern border and how completely mismanaged the asylum process is, Lankford sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas asking for more information about the Notice to Report (NTR) and Parole processes that the agency is using to release illegal border crossers at the southern border.   

After numerous staff and direct conversations about the matter, Lankford sent a letter to Secretary Mayorkas to on his concerns about efforts to re-implement the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers. Lankford has repeatedly asked for information and raised significant questions about whether DHS is following the District Court’s order to resume the program in “good faith.”  

Transcripts of Lankford’s remarks on the bills

On Lankford’s bill to extend Title 42 authority

It’s the 21st of December, and we don’t have information from the Department of Homeland Security on how many people illegally crossed our border in November.

What’s interesting about that is Jeh Johnson, when he was the director, he talked openly and often about how often he got a report of how many people illegally crossed the border. In fact, he said when he was the Director of DHS, every single morning he got a report of how many people illegally crossed the border the day before. They knew to the day.

I’ve been to a facility here in Washington, DC, that they can actually track to the hour how many people have illegally crossed our border every single hour of the day 365 days a year. But it’s the 21st of December and we’ve requested how many people illegally crossed the border in the month of November, and they said they’re still working on it.

Let me just tell you why that’s relevant—because the Department of Homeland Security is in full-on chaos mode trying to be able to figure out how to manage thousands and thousands of people illegally crossing our border not yearly, not monthly, daily now. Daily.

Jeh Johnson, when he was at Homeland Security under the Obama Administration, said he knew it was going to be a very bad day when 1,000 people crossed the border illegally the day before. Best guess over the last 24 hours, 9,000 people illegally crossed our border in the last 24 hours. Now, I couldn’t tell you that exactly, though. The Secretary does know because they keep records to the hour, but they won’t let Congress know that because they don’t want the American people to know what’s really happening on the border right now. So they’re hiding the facts.

The hard part is they can’t hide the facts because even the Washington Post is down on the border now looking at what’s going on the southern border and saying: that’s chaos.

It’s not an accident. It was by design, and it was by design over several policy issues, the first of which in the first days of the Biden Administration they said, we’re setting aside Title 42 authority. That was a temporary authority during the pandemic to say that individuals that are requesting asylum can’t automatically come to the country. We were turning them away. That was designed to be temporary authority and everyone knew it, and that’s the reason I’ve asked for over the year of the Secretary: what is the plan when Title 42 authority goes away? And what I was told was as recently as early this year, ‘Oh, we’ve got a six-point plan. In fact, not only do we have a six-point plan, we’ve already started that six-point plan.’

Just weeks ago, I asked the Secretary again what’s the plan when Title 42 authority goes away, because it will go away the 21st of December, and I got the same response again: we have a six-point plan. But their six-point plan that they’re carrying out, they’ve continued to see the rapid rise of the number of people illegally crossing our border every day. It used to be 1,000, and then it was 2,000, and then it was 3,000, and then it jumped to 5,000, and then it jumped to 7,000, and now it’s up to 8,000 or 9,000 every day.

Again, to put it in perspective what’s going on at our southern border, even before the quote-unquote Title 42 authority goes away, to put this in perspective, the Obama Administration, the big year of the largest surge that happened on our southern border during the Obama Administration was just over half a million people illegally crossed that year. The best we can tell, we’ve had half a million people illegally cross our border in the last two months.

This is full-on crisis.

So what’s happening with it? Of the 2 million people that have illegally crossed our border in the last year, somewhere around 700,000 of those folks were turned around under Title 42 authority. Many of them single males that were coming into the country that were turned around. So of the approximately 2 million, approximately 700,000 were turned away. This Administration has asked for the Court to take away Title 42 authority and to say, ‘We’re going to ignore that, and we’re just going to process everyone under what they call Title 8 authority.’

Let me clarify what that means. Title 8 authority is the issue of processing people in the normal structure, but what’s happening right now with Title 8 authority under this Administration? Well, two things. One is they’ve said we’re putting people under expedited, ‘expedited’ process. Well, that sounds great, and it’s a great little title in the media to say they’re in expedited removal hearings, except when you look at this Administration, they’ve actually removed seven percent of the people that they put under expedited removal. So they’re basically giving them a title of expedited removal but not actually removing them. Of the 1.3 million people that have illegally crossed our border in just the past year that were allowed to be able to come into our country under Title 8 authority, 1.3 million people have come into the country.

ICE, who their budget has been cut and their purpose has been repurposed, they used to be for prosecuting individuals to be able to move out of the country. Now ICE has been repurposed and they’re actually processing paperwork of individuals in the country illegally. It used to be they were processing out. Now they’re processing in. So 1.3 million people have crossed our border illegally, less than 70,000 people have actually been deported. That is a record-low number of people who have actually been deported.

The chaos continues on our southern border and for whatever reason this Administration chooses not to care. I asked the Secretary how many criminals have had criminal vetting from the country of origin and the answer was, ‘I’ll get back to you on that.’ He knows the same answer that I do. The answer is zero.

The American people believe there’s some kind of vetting happening coming across the border. There’s not. They’re checked to see if they’re on the terror watch list. They’re checked to see if they’ve committed a crime in the United States, but we literally don’t know the individuals crossing the border from 150 countries. So far this year. We literally don’t know if they’re fleeing poverty or justice. We have no idea because no one’s checked. They’re just ushered into the country. Now they’re given expedited removal or parole, which we know now is not actually removal.

Or worse yet, the vast majority of those individuals are given what’s called parole. Why? Because parole is faster. They can process people into the country quicker if they parole them. The other thing about parole, they actually get a work permit the first day that they’re in the United States.

So help me understand this. The current policy of the Biden Administration, they say they’re trying to stop illegal immigration, but they’re actually paroling people into the country as fast as they can, giving people a work permit the first day that they’re actually here, and they’re setting them up with a hearing for ICE to help process in. The backlog for ICE is five years long.

So it’s five years until they get that done, and then it’s 10 years after that for the next time. So they’re currently up to 15 years that they’re in the country with a work permit.

Why is Title 42 such a big issue? Because Title 42 is turning away at least 40 percent of the folks at the border. Once that goes away, everyone comes in and this accelerates even more. The best evidence that we have at this point is there are tens of thousands of people just south of the border right now waiting for Title 42 authority to go away because they’ve been turned away in the past, and they’re rapidly coming in now, just waiting on the Court to be able to turn this off.

But currently no one seems to care. The Biden Administration’s become the Administration of chaos on the border, and the American people see it plainly. And I have to tell you, the American people are not opposed to legal immigration, but they do not like this chaos. And as much as the Administration can say, ‘We’re just not going to tell you the numbers,’ or as much as this Senate has just refused to do hearings on this matter, we’re at the same spot. Tens of thousands of people are illegally crossing the border, record high numbers, and there seems to be no deterrent on this.

So I come to this floor with two requests. The first of that is: to keep Title 42 in place. I’ve had a bipartisan bill that’s been out there since April of this year, asking a very simple question, maintain the Title 42 authority. Give that tool to the Secretary to be able to at least turn away individuals that are illegally coming into the country to be able to say to those individuals, you do not have a standard for asylum here, and turn those folks away.

Stop the massive flow that’s coming into our country on that, at least of that level. Don’t make a terrible situation even worse. This bill has broad support. This is a bill that will actually help this Administration to enforce the law and to decrease the chaos on our southern border. This is not a radical idea. It’s a straightforward idea to say if we’re interested in securing the border, this is a way to do that.

On Lankford’s bill to fix our broken asylum process

If we’re going to object to maintaining the Title 42 authority, than I ask for something else the Administration is considering. The Administration has gone back and forth on what is a transit ban for asylum, if for those coming from 150 different countries, literally flying in an aircraft, landing in Mexico, and then the cartels shuttle them to the border, they show up with luggage. If you don’t believe me, there’s lots of video of it of people coming from other countries. I have a bill to say: you can’t fly in from another country and land here. That’s not asylum.

The Administration is considering a transit ban to say you can’t go through multiple countries and show up in the United States and say, now I want asylum.

I have a bill that deals with this. It’s a straightforward policy.

Multiple other countries around the world also have. This policy will help our Administration to enforce the border and give the tools to the Border Patrol to be able to make decisions along the border that actually help protect the safety of our nation. Current process, let me remind you, is thousands of people literally be paroled into our country saying, 15 years from now, we’ll decide what to do with you. That’s the current process. Incentivizing illegal immigration. It doesn’t slow down. This is not a matter of one day it will get better. We’re the greatest nation on Earth. There are billions much people who want to be able to come here. So this is a simple, straightforward way to deal with that, and it’s the transit issue to be able to resolve that issue for asylum.