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Lankford Pushed DHS Nominee to Continue to Secure US Southern Border

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s Q&A.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in a hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to consider the nomination of the Honorable Alejandro N. Mayorkas to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. His questions focused on the need to continue the work of the Trump Administration to continue to strengthen our US southern border , prioritize drug interdiction and combat drug cartels, and enforce the laws in place to address caravans from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, illegal immigration, and asylum seekers.

Lankford has been outspoken on securing the US southern border through physical barriers and modernized technology and recently supported a bill to provide funding for continued construction. He visited the US Southern Border in July 2019 at the Hidalgo Port of Entry, near McAllen, Texas in order to conduct oversight of facility conditions and operations. He continued to push the issue in February 2020 during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. Lankford stressed his support for ICE on the Senate floor after his oversight trip, providing a first-hand account of the care they provide. Lankford penned an article with Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on why calls to abolish ICE would worsen child smuggling and other US-Mexico border problems. He has also sought answers on the human smuggling crisis at the southern border during previous Homeland Security hearings

As a member of the committee, Lankford met with Mayorkas virtually on Monday, January 18, 2021, ahead of the hearing.  

Excerpts 

 Lankford: Would you recommend then that ICE be defunded?

Mayorkas: No 

Lankford: Does ICE need actually additional support?

Mayorkas: Senator, there I will have to study the condition of Immigration and Custom Enforcement, how efficiently and effectively it is using its resources and how it’s best serving the American public. 

Lankford: Thank you. We’ll look forward to getting a chance to follow up on that study.

On protecting the US Southern Border 

LankfordIs there any area of the border that you would see now that still needs additional repair for physical barriers, additional increase in technology, or would need an expansion of physical barriers?

Mayorkas: Senator, I look forward to studying that because I am well aware of the challenges that the border presents. I am very well aware of the fact, as Senator Johnson alluded to, that traffickers are seeking to exploit the border not only to move people across it illegally, but to move contraband, to move fentanyl. The narcotic traffickers have sought to exploit the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I look forward to studying the border to make sure those challenges are repelled.  

Lankford: The border agents that I’ve spoken to there along the border tell me two things on physical barriers. One is it slows people down so they’re able to interdict as they’re trying to climb the wall, get around the wall, get under the wall. They’re able to get access to those individuals and able to interdict faster in that sense. It becomes a deterrent. It also pushes people towards the point of entry where they can manage those families and individuals a lot easier in that sense in a more reasonable environment rather than being in a very remote area. So I look forward to that ongoing conversation.

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